Jaylon Smith expected to start on Sunday night, 20 months after knee injury

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Jaylon Smith is finally ready to prove he’s all the way back.

Smith, who blew out his knee in the final game of his college career on January 1, 2016, is expected to start at middle linebacker on Sunday night, according to ESPN. Smith and Justin Durant will likely split snaps, but Smith may be better prepared because he got more preseason playing time.

A Week One start is a huge achievement for Smith, whose knee injury in college was so severe that some thought it would end his football career. Simply by earning a spot on an NFL active roster, Smith has already exceeded the expectations of those who thought he’d never play again.

His next step is to actually play in a meaningful NFL game, which he’ll finally do against the Giants on Sunday.