No longer in need of an ankle foot orthosis (AFO) brace for drop foot, Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith has no more reminders of his devastating knee injury from two years ago. Instead, he sees only a bright future.
“From the start, people thought I’d never be able to play the game again,” Smith said, via Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News. “I’ve been able to accomplish that and each and every day I’ve gotten better. Last year, each game I improved.
“I’m getting there. I’m going to be better than Notre Dame 100 percent. My overall knowledge of the game has improved each and every day, and [I’m physically] going to improve as well.”
Smith’s knee injury in the final game of his Notre Dame career — on New Year’s Day 2016 — severely damaged his peroneal nerve. He sat out all of 2016 in a redshirt season of sorts before playing 16 games with six starts last season while becoming one of the rare NFL players to play with an AFO brace.
He doesn’t expect to need it this season.
“I’m happy,” Smith said. “There’s a great chance that I won’t have to play with it this year. I haven’t wore it since the offseason training began, [and I] want to keep it going.”