Jaylon Smith missed all of his rookie season after a devastating left knee injury in Notre Dame’s bowl game. The Cowboys linebacker saw action in all 16 games last season, playing 55 percent of the snaps.
He feels “substantially better” now, more than two years after the injury.
“It showed on the field, week by week my growth, my comfort and just being able to play the position again,” Smith said on 105.3 The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News. “I’m prepared and I’m ready to tackle even more this year. It’s going to be a great year.”
The Cowboys lost versatile linebacker Anthony Hitchens in free agency, leaving a hole. Smith, who finished fourth on the team in tackles with 81, could remain at middle linebacker or he could move to the strongside depending on what the Cowboys do in the draft.
Smith expects to remain at middle linebacker.
“Honestly, I’m not a general manager or anything like that,” Smith said. “I don’t know anything about playing the SAM and things like that. But I know last year I played MIKE linebacker, and I grew each week. And I’m ready to tackle even more. Playing side by side next to Sean Lee, I’m excited.
“Obviously I can do a lot, so being able to use me as a [pass] rusher as well, I mean, I’m going to do what the coaches tell me to do, and I’m going to achieve greatness.”