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Jets LT Tyron Smith: 'I'm Always Leading by Example'

8-Time All-Pro Takes No. 1 Draft Pick, Olu Fashanu, Under His Prodigious Wing


Locked in the trenches for 161 games over 13 NFL seasons in Dallas, left tackle Tyron Smith has let his play do the talking.

On Tuesday afternoon at 1 Jets Drive, Smith, signed by the Jets in free agency to protect Aaron Rodgers' blindside, found himself as the focus of attention in what was his first official encounter with the Jets' beat reporters on the first day of mandatory minicamp.

"I've never been a rah-rah type guy," the 33-year-old, eight-time All-Pro and likely Hall of Famer said. "I try to say as little as possible. I'm always leading by example… That's the way I always roll."

Smith was out on the field at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Tuesday and again on Wednesday after spending much of the recently completed OTAs methodically working his way back to full football fitness. He is one of the linchpins on the Jets' revamped and retooled offensive line -- joined by Morgan Moses (acquired in a trade with Baltimore), John Simpson (signed in free agency from the Ravens) and third-year man Alijah Vera-Tucker (who will be anchored at right guard after playing nearly every O-line position but center). Joe Tippmann, heading into his second season, returns at center.

"I enjoy it," said Smith, who was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's All-Decade Team of the 2010s. "You can always get better at some kind of technique. You sit there and learn."

In his final season with the Cowboys, after wearing the Lone Star helmet since being drafted in the first round (No. 9) overall out of USC in 2011, Smith started 13 games at left tackle after playing four games in 2022. Pro Football Focus gave him an 83.7 offensive grade, the fifth-highest grade among tackles, and an 89.3 pass block rating, the highest among tackles to start at least two games as Dallas ran the league's No. 1 scoring offense (29.9 points a game). According to PFF, in 847 offensive snaps, he allowed 21 pressures, 3 sacks and 1 QB hit.

Brian Baldinger of NFL Network believes the Jets have a seminal talent in their midst in Smith.

"Two things about Tyron, ever since he came out of USC, is he has no clock in his head about how long the quarterback was holding the ball," Baldinger told Eric Allen on a recent edition of "The Official Jets Podcast." "He'll block. He'll never give up. And once he gets his grip on you – he never lets go, his ability to grip, grab, he doesn't get a lot of holding calls. He doesn't lose. Once he gets his grip on you, the play's over and he'll hold that for as long as it takes the quarterback to get rid of the ball. Those are the staples in Tyron's game and always have been.

"He's always had great upper-body strength, it's been the hallmark of his career. I don't care who he's going against, pick a guy, I don't care – he's going to lock him up."

In the past decade, Smith has seen plenty of the Aaron Rodgers' magic from the sideline as Green Bay has consistently been a thorn in the side of the Cowboys. On Nov. 13, 2022, Rodgers led the Packers back from a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime, which Green Bay eventually won when Rodgers led a drive that ended with a game-winning field goal. Rodgers also led the Packers to postseason triumphs over the Cowboys in both the 2014 (26-21) and 2016 (34-31) postseasons.

"It's been great," Smith said in response to a question about being around Rodgers. "You know, he's one of the greats. And anything, anything he tells you, you listen, because it's going to also be something you haven't heard before. So just take what you know, what it is, and, you know, learn from."

See all of the best photos from the first day of Jets Mandatory Minicamp practices in 2024.

Through his first nine seasons in the league, Smith never played in fewer than 13 games. Over the last four seasons, however, he has dealt with a series of injuries (knee, back, ankle, hamstring and elbow) that limited him to 17 games over three seasons before he bounced back by playing in 13 games last season. He said he's become better at managing his body.

"Well, the system they had set up for me in Dallas was something they came up with, and it worked," he said. "And so just pretty much it was me listening to what they tell me to do, and the same thing here. Whatever plan they have for me to take care of me here. I'm gonna listen."

He added: "Honestly, after last year, I think, they took care of me, and just really focused on taking care of my body. Coming into his offseason I feel great."

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