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Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith making progress every day

By The Sports Xchange
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) practiced in front of media for the first time since his injury on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of SportsDay Cowboys/Twitter
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) practiced in front of media for the first time since his injury on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of SportsDay Cowboys/Twitter

FRISCO, Tex. -- Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith took part in drills in front of the media Wednesday for the first time.

And all eyes were on him.

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Smith missed all of last season with a college knee injury. He was a first-round talent who dropped to the second round because of questions surrounding the knee, which included nerve damage and drop foot.

The Cowboys bet that Smith would not only recover to play again, but reach the potential of being an impact player on a defense that sorely needs impact players.

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He has gone through drills throughout the offseason and has been cleared to play. But he has been kept out of the media spotlight until Wednesday.

"It feels great. It feels great," Smith said. "It's a blessing to be a part of this team. I'm just happy to be here. Each week we gradually continue to progress."

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There is no doubt that Smith will play.

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The question remains whether he will reach the impact level the Cowboys bet on. He still wears a brace for drop foot, though that doesn't limit him from doing drills.

He doesn't know if he'll require the brace for games yet, but is in good spirits about his progress.

"I'm just doing everything I've been doing, taking it day by day and performing at a high level," Smith said. "It was pretty intense - individual work and getting some seven-on-seven in, some special teams."

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Again, going through drills in OTAs and minicamp are different than training camp and games when the pads are on. That is what everyone is waiting to see.

Said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, "Pads are everything. He's going through Stage 1 here and it's good stuff so far. But, to me, it's just step by step ... progress. Try not to see it more than what it is. It's just day-by-day progress."

The Cowboys are expected to remain cautious with Smith in next week's minicamp, likely having him go through two limited practices with one rest day.

Will he have a similar set up for training camp?

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"Don't want to make those statements. We certainly love the progress that he's made and are excited about what he's been doing up to this point," head coach Jason Garrett said. "He's getting better and better and better. He's getting more and more comfortable with the football movements. He's been playing more football for us the last couple of weeks. And that's been a positive sign for him."

The Cowboys are excited to see him back on the field.

"You're not used to not playing," linebacker Sean Lee said. "You played your entire life and then all of a sudden you've got to miss a year. You've got to learn how to walk again, you've got to learn how to get your muscles back. The attitude that he had? He never flinched. He's been positive every single day.

"It's been so fun to watch. He's really been an inspiration in how he's handled it."

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