Report: Dallas Cowboys Jaylon Smith can lift foot, toes

Aug 1, 2016; Irvine, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 1, 2016; Irvine, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

According to a source, Dallas Cowboys’ linebacker Jaylon Smith is gaining more muscle control as the nerve in his knee is reportedly regenerating.

Prior to a devastating knee injury suffered in January of 2016, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith was a projected top five selection in the NFL Draft. Some even considered Smith a possible candidate for the number one overall pick.

The Dallas Cowboys owned the fourth overall selection in last year’s draft after posting a season-ending record of 4-12 the year before. If healthy, Smith might have been a consideration for the Cowboys at that top spot. Dallas picked Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott instead, and Smith proceeded to tumble out of the first round.

Smith’s injury not only hurt his draft stock, but the nerve damage he suffered as a result threatened to end his football career entirely. But due to the fact the Cowboys own team physician, Dr. Dan Cooper, performed the surgery to repair the then 20-year’s injury, Dallas had the confidence to catch the falling star with the 34th overall selection at the top of the second round on Day Two.

Seen as one of the most riskiest picks in recent memory, the Cowboys shocked the sporting world with the selection of Smith. On one hand, Dallas potentially had found themselves a franchise changing player in the second round. On the other, it was unknown whether Smith would ever play football again due to his injury.

After sitting out all of last season to rehabilitated, there were contradictory reports earlier this year on whether the nerve in Smith’s knee was regenerating or not. In March, it was revealed the young linebacker would attempt to play this season. But Smith would be required to wear a brace for foot drop, which is a result of the nerve damage he suffered.

But on Monday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport revealed some positive news concerning Smith’s injury. According to a source informed of his prognosis, the nerve in the 21-year old’s injured knee has started regenerating to the point where he has gained back some muscle control.

"“Smith can now lift up his toes and he can lift his foot,” wrote Rapoport on the league’s official website. “More good news. What no one knows is when or if the nerve will completely return to normal. Internally, the Cowboys continue to minimize expectations and know he has a ways to go. Nevermind that he missed football last year and must catch up on the field.”"

Although this is certainly terrific news for the Cowboys and their fans, it should also be noted that Smith still has a long way to go before making an impact on the field. And according to Rapoport, he’ll still need to wear a foot brace in order to play.

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Despite some great workout videos, the fact is the former second rounder is essentially a rookie who hasn’t played organized football in over a year. And though many believe Smith will make his debut in 2017, cautious optimism is likely the best road to take when considering his immediate future in Dallas.