In truth, it doesn’t matter how Jaylon Smith plays this week or this season. Just the fact that he has returned to game action is a victory in itself.
Some teams dropped Smith from their draft boards after his devastating knee injury on Jan. 1, 2016, their team doctors questioning whether Smith would ever get back on the field.
The Cowboys linebacker, though, never doubted.
“I knew it would come,” Smith said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s just a matter of God’s timing.”
Smith tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee during Notre Dame’s bowl game, damaging the peroneal nerve. The Cowboys drafted Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft and used last season as a redshirt season as they waited for the nerve to regenerate.
After playing 27 snaps in the preseason, Smith is ready for his NFL debut Sunday. The Cowboys will keep him on a snap count against the Giants, letting him share snaps with Justin Durant at middle linebacker.
“Right now it’s all about executing the game plan that we put together, and it’s something I’m all in,” Smith said. “The past is a bucket of ashes. For me, those things they’ve occurred; they’ve happened. But it’s about living in the now. It’s Week One. It’s time to prepare.”