Dallas Cowboys fans should love what Jaylon Smith said!
After suffering a devastating knee injury in college, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith successfully returned to the football field in 2017. So, what’s next?
The Dallas Cowboys have some big decisions to make this offseason. And one of them directly involves the future of second-year linebacker Jaylon Smith. More specifically, the health of the young defender.
Back in January of 2016, the former Notre Dame star linebacker suffered a devastating knee injury during the Fiesta Bowl, severing his ACL and MCL while also causing significant nerve damage. Some feared Smith would never play football again.
The Cowboys would make Smith the 34th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft a mere four months later. But it would be more than a year before the ailing defender would be able to play for Dallas. And he’d have to wear a special brace for drop foot in order to do so.
After making his debut in the preseason, Smith was forced to start his first five regular season games in the NFL due to an injury suffered by veteran linebacker Anthony Hitchens. And the second-year defender excelled, racking up 41 total tackles and a forced fumble. And during that span, Smith started to show some of the quickness and instincts that made him a potential Top Five selection in his draft.
Hitchens made his return in Week Five, and Smith started to play a backup role, coming off the bench. Still, the 22-year appeared to improve both physically and mentally as the season progressed. With one more game left to be played, Smith has posted 78 combined tackles, 1.0 sack, two pass defends and two forced fumbles in what is essentially his rookie season.
With Hitchens scheduled to hit free agency this offseason, one of the biggest questions for the Cowboys is if Jaylon Smith is ready to assume the starting middle linebacker role in Dallas. If the answer is yes, the Cowboys front office may feel comfortable allowing Hitchens to walk.
According to Cowboys trainer Britt Brown, Smith is going to be a totally different guy next year, physically a lot closer to the player he was at Notre Dame. If that’s true, the only aspect of Jaylon’s game Dallas should be worried about is the mental side of playing what is essentially the “quarterback” of the defense.
But with another offseason of training and studying under his belt, Smith seems confident he can play at an elite level from here on out. And Cowboy fans should love that!
"“Longevity is the big thing. For me to be able to put together a full season is a great feeling, a huge accomplishment but it’s just the beginning,” Smith told the Dallas Morning News. “Each game I improved. I feel elite again. It’s a great feeling and knowing I’m able to contribute at a high level for America’s team, it’s going to be some great years to come … I’m back. I feel like myself. It’s very encouraging moving into next season.”"
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Likely the most positive human being on the planet, Jaylon Smith is not one to doubt himself or what he can do. But he’s also been proven right throughout this season. Dallas Cowboys fans should be very excited about this young man’s future in Big “D”.