The Dallas Cowboys officially ended any dreams of playing rookie linebacker Jaylon Smith this season when they placed him on season-ending injured reserve last month.
But that doesn’t keep Smith from feeling like he could have helped a Cowboys playoff run. In fact, Smith didn’t hesitate when asked if he could have been an asset to the Cowboys in what they hope is a Super Bowl run.
“I think I could have played and competed at an elite level,” Smith said, “but with us coming together and realizing the situation with the nerve coming back, we’re going to be patient and trust God’s timing.”
Said coach Jason Garrett: “He’s made tremendous progress. It doesn’t surprise us one bit.”
Smith said everything is progressing well for him, including a nerve regenerating in his left knee. Smith has missed his entire rookie season after sustaining a serious knee injury in his final college game at Notre Dame.
He fully expects to be ready to participate in organized team activities in May, and is on track to become a key contributor to next year’s team.
“It’s just a thing that you have to have patience,” Smith said. “I’m going to continue to do everything I’m asked and controlling what I can control and we’re going to take our time with it.”
Smith said he can feel the nerve regenerating and that doctors and tests have shown similar progress. Smith underwent surgery to reconstruct his left anterior cruciate ligament after the bowl game, and is also dealing with a drop foot condition that requires him to wear a brace during rehab exercises.
Smith remains positive even though it’s been difficult to miss his first professional season. He said the idea of the nerve possibly not regenerating has never crossed his mind.
Instead, he’s relied on his faith and feels he has many football games ahead.
“I’ve accepted the reality that I won’t be playing this year,” Smith said. “I’ve come to terms with it. I understand God has a plan. Just having patience. I’ve been thankful to be on this team and to watch my guys go out there and ball. I support them any way I can.”