More optimism around Jaylon Smith in Dallas

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Although an injury in his last college game forced him to miss his entire rookie season in 2016, the Cowboys remain optimistic that linebacker Jaylon Smith will have a significant impact in 2017.

Smith, whose knee injury while playing for Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl was viewed as so severe it could end his career, is running and cutting, according to Todd Archer of ESPN. Although Smith is wearing a brace on his injured knee, it’s a brace he’d be able to play in if necessary.

The Cowboys’ team doctor performed Smith’s knee surgery, and they have always believed he’d eventually become the kind of player in college, when he was discussed as a potential first overall pick in the draft. Cowboys executive Stephen Jones even said he thinks Smith could end up being a better player than the Cowboys’ two rookie of the year candidates, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

Smith won’t be eligible for the rookie of the year award next year, but that’s the kind of player the Cowboys think he can be.