Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith has yet to practice in front of the media because the team is still being cautious with two months to go before the start of training camp and four months before the start of the season.
And while he is still wearing a brace for drop foot, stemming from nerve damage from a knee injury that kept him out all of his rookie season, momentum continues to build for his return to the field this season.
Smith is not working out on consecutive days during organized team activities, but he has no limitations when he works with the rest of the team on Tuesday and Thursday.
Smith says he can do everything he did during his senior season at Notre Dame when he was widely regarded as a top-10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft before the injury.
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“I feel amazing,” Smith said. “I feel great. I’m doing everything. I’m just following protocol. Everything they tell me to do I can do. I’m getting a lot done.”
The Cowboys took a chance on Smith in the second round and believe he will return to top form largely because it was their team doctor who did the surgery on him.
Ever-optimistic owner Jerry Jones has been bullish on Smith being an impact player since Day 1.
Coach Jason Garrett is typically more buttoned down than Jones in his evaluations, but he is doing nothing to temper the enthusiasm and says there have been no setbacks so far.
“I just know that he’s made a lot of progress and it’s such a great story because it was a serious injury that he’s had,” Garrett said. “His optimism, his outlook in life is just rare. I really do believe that’s helped him get better and better. He’s worked very hard. He’s in a good environment to get better and he’s embraced it. There's been no obstacles up to this point. He's just done a really nice job working to get back."