With all eyes on second-year linebacker Jaylon Smith at Dallas Cowboys training camp, the former second rounder is showing signs of his old self.
One of the biggest concerns in drafting a player coming off a serious injury is will they ever play up to their previous form and achieve the potential they flashed in college? There is likely no better example of this than Dallas Cowboys second-year linebacker Jaylon Smith.
The Notre Dame star suffered a devastating knee injury during the Fiesta Bowl in January of 2016. He not only tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee, but he also suffered significant nerve damage. Once considered a top five selection, Smith tumbled down the 2016 NFL Draft to the 34th overall selection, where the Cowboys took a gamble on him.
Well over a year later and Smith finally made his debut earlier this week at Cowboys training camp. Considering the severity of his injury, the fact the 22-year is even on the field is a victory in itself.
But through the few glimpses fans got of Smith this week, there seemed to be a bit of hesitation by both the player and the coaching staff to really let Jaylon loose. Which considering the fact the Cowboys have always taken the slow and steady approach to his rehabilitation wasn’t a big surprise.
So, the questions about Smith regaining his explosion and instincts where left pretty much unanswered. But on Saturday, Jaylon started showing signs of his old self. Checkout the speed and burst by #54 in the below video, which would have resulted in a tackle for a loss on running back Darren McFadden.
Smith made a similar eyebrow-raising play during these team drills, meeting McFadden in the hole. This is a great sign if you are a Cowboys fan. The hype surrounding Smith has been enormous this offseason. And all signs point to Dallas getting a real steal.
Here’s what Smith had to say following yesterday’s impressive display.
"“It felt great. It felt great to be back in the mix of things,” Smith told the team’s official website. “Just that intensity of the gladiator sport of football. I love being out here and able to make a play. For me, it’s about improving every day. I’ve improved from the first day and tomorrow I’ll continue to improve. So I’m excited.”"
The Dallas Cowboys took a risk when they selected Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. And the team and it’s fans have been incredibly patience waiting for over a year to see if the gamble paid off. Through the first week of training camp…so far, so good.