The wait to see linebacker Jaylon Smith in pads as a member of the Cowboys came to an end on Wednesday.
Smith participated in a padded practice for the first time since suffering torn ligaments in his knee and damage to the peroneal nerve in his leg while playing for Notre Dame in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, a span that covered 572 days and much doubt about his playing future. The work was limited — eight snaps with the second team — but it left Smith in high spirits.
“That was a great feeling, a huge accomplishment being back on the field,” Smith said, via Brandon George the Dallas Morning News. “It was full pads, so there were a lot of things that come with it. The nitty-gritty and the full contact. It’s something that I embraced, and I was able to get after it. … I can’t remember the last time I had pain in my knee or my foot. My knee feels 100 percent. I can hop on one leg.”
Smith’s fellow linebacker Sean Lee said Smith “moved great” and George’s report from the practice said Smith showed no signs of favoring his left leg during the practice. All of that adds up to a positive step for the player and a base to use to build up to the ones that will have to follow for him to play a significant role come September.