© Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys have the best offense in the NFL through the first quarter of the 2020 season, but they're quickly losing pieces all across the trenches, and now they'll be without arguably their biggest one for the rest of the year. As center Joe Looney faces a multi-week absence because of an MCL sprain and right tackle La'El Collins begins rehab after season-ending hip surgery, left tackle Tyron Smith is prepared to undergo surgery for a neck injury and will miss the remainder of the 2020 season, coach Mike McCarthy announced Friday.

Mike Garafolo and Jane Slater, of NFL Network, reported earlier in the week that Smith suffered a "setback" in his recovery from a neck issue that sidelined him for the Cowboys' Week 2 and 3 games. One of the options on the table was Dallas completely "shutting (Smith) down for the season." ESPN's Ed Werder echoed the report, saying Thursday the Cowboys began contemplating placing Smith on injured reserve after Sunday's loss and questioned whether he could return in 2020 at all.

While Smith started on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, previous reports indicated the team was already concerned with his ability to hold up for the entire season. The Dallas Morning News, for example, indicated ahead of Week 3 that Dallas expected it would have to "manage (Smith) carefully over a prolonged period." McCarthy, meanwhile, told reporters early this week that Smith is further back in his total recovery from neck issues than he was ahead of the team's last game.

Smith, who had yet to practice this week, also missed time in 2018 due to a neck injury. He'll now be replaced indefinitely by second-year backup Brandon Knight, who's logged two starts in place of the seven-time Pro Bowler this year.