The Dallas Cowboys certainly had some optimism that Jaylon Smith would eventually be able to play for them when they used a second-round draft pick to select him last year. Smith missed his entire rookie season while recovering from a significant knee injury that left him with nerve damage and an uncertain future.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones has been one of the most optimistic entities within the Cowboys over Smith’s potential to contribute in Dallas this season. Ahead of the start of the NFL combine on Wednesday, Jones expressed his belief that Smith can play with the necessary brace and be an effective player for the Cowboys.
“We think he’s going to be real effective, but how effective remains to be seen, and that’s why I think it’s difficult to say, ‘Well, we expect him to be the dominant player he was at Notre Dame.’ That’s probably high expectations. Is it possible? Absolutely,” Jones said, via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Smith’s knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl for Notre Dame left him with a torn ACL and MCL. The damage to his peroneal nerve left him with a condition called “drop foot,” which affects his ability to lift his foot at the ankle. Smith has said the nerve has begun to regenerate and he is getting increased feeling back in his foot.
With his improvement, Jones expects that Smith will be able to contribute for the Cowboys this season.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” Jones said. “I think he’s got a great opportunity, if he keeps on his current path, to be a dominant player for us. Now to say I expect that when he’s not there yet? That’s tough to have that expectation. But I think we do expect him to contribute and be a big part of our defense this year. The question is how physically well he gets by the start of next season in terms of some of what he still has hampering him somewhat. But our guys are convinced he can play in his current condition, and it should only improve as we go.”