The wait is over.
Linebacker Jaylon Smith will make his debut for the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, owner Jerry Jones said.
Smith, the Cowboys’ second-round pick in 2016, hasn’t played in a game since Jan. 1, 2016. He described his hunger to return to game action as a “large appetite” on Monday. Jones made the declaration after Tuesday’s practice.
“I’m excited,” Jones said. “Very excited. Excited about his progress this camp.”
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Smith has checked every box so far in training camp, and had a highlight play when he ended Monday’s practice with a would-be sack of Kellen Moore.
Smith has worked his way back diligently after sustaining a major knee injury in Notre Dame’s bowl game on Jan. 1, 2016, and he’s expected to make a significant contribution to the Cowboys’ defense.
“I know he is driven. He is focused,” Jones said. “If he can come out and contribute and have success, no one deserves it more than him. It’s been real hard work and preparation, really overcoming his challenges. Nobody deserves it more than Jaylon.”
Smith made a name for himself for his playmaking abilities in college, finishing his three-year career with 23.5 tackles for loss, including 4.5 sacks.