Jaylon Smith optimistic he can play for Cowboys next year

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Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker Jaylon Smith didn’t ever step foot on a practice field this year after a catastrophic knee injury suffered in last year’s Fiesta Bowl with Notre Dame left him with nerve damage and an uncertain football future.

He’s hoping that 2017 presents the opportunity to get on the field with the Cowboys for the time.

According to Todd Archer of ESPN.com, Smith says his damaged nerves have been regenerating and he’s experienced increased feeling in his foot a year after his injury.

I’m getting my 4.4 speed back, I’ll tell you that,” Smith said. “That’s how well I’m moving. You wouldn’t be able to tell if you saw me run.”

Smith spent the entire season on Dallas’ non-football injury list. The Cowboys could have let him practice during a three-week window in midseason but didn’t chance it as he continues to recover from the injury. Despite the injury concerns, the Cowboys elected to use a second round pick to draft him last April.

His first chance to get back on the field with Dallas will be in OTAs in May.