Dallas Cowboys

Stephen Jones says Jaylon Smith will be big contributor

The Dallas Cowboys are not backing down on their expectations for linebacker Jaylon Smith and it’s not just the ever-positive owner Jerry Jones.

Jason Garrett is also on record as being extremely positive about Smith’s ability to play in 2017 after missing his entire rookie season in 2016 because a knee injury and continued nerve damage from the bowl game in his final season at Notre Dame.

Smith continues wear a brace for drop foot, but he has been a full participant in the Cowboys off-season program and organized team activities, which continue this week.

He takes one day off a week during OTAs for precautionary reasons, but there are no limitations holding him back when he does work with his teammates.

It’s one reason executive vice president Stephen Jones has joined the increasingly loud chorus of Cowboys personnel who are expecting a big impact from him in 2017.

“Where he sits today he is definitely going to be a big contributor for us,” Jones said recently on ESPN 103.3 FM. “What our medical people believe, he should only improve. He gets more and more nerve functions every day. He is only going to get better. As we watch him move and gain confidence, it’s certainly encouraging. We just believe he is going to be a big-time contributor for the Dallas Cowboys.”

When the Cowboys took a chance on Smith with a second-round pick in the 2016 draft, despite knowing about the injury and the he would likely miss his rookie season, they did so with the expectation that he would regain the form that had him labeled as a consensus top-10 draft pick and franchise cornerstone player.

So it’s one thing for him to play again after such a horrific knee injury, it’s another for him to play at the level of his pre-draft status.

Jones says the Cowboys have every reason to believe at some point he is going to become they player they hoped he would be. They have no concerns about any setback when the real football starts in training camp and the regular season.

“Absolutely,” Jones said. “Everything we have seen so far, especially the way he goes about his business, leads us to believe it will be a process, but won’t be one that takes long.”

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram