Jaylon Smith insists the knee “deal” that has kept him from fully participating in a recent practice should not cause anyone to lose any sleep, change any bets, or alter any ideas of how it could affect his next contract.
“It’s normal,” he said. “It’s minor.”
And it would be, if the knee boo-boo in question was not the same knee that he destroyed in the final game of his college career that caused him to drop from being a top five draft pick to a second round gamble.
The Cowboys linebacker has appeared in all 32 games in each of the past two seasons, including last year where he played like a top five draft pick.
Jerry Jones hinted another contract may be coming for one of his players, other than the top three obvious candidates from Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott to Amari Cooper.
The natural assumption is Smith. Not sure how cornerback Byron Jones feels about this (he’s in the final year of his deal).
Smith is also entering the final year of his contract where he can be a restricted free agent, but that knee makes his situation tricky, even if the evidence says it should not.
“I want to be a Cowboy for the rest of my life,” Smith said Wednesday morning. “Understanding what they’ve done for me, taking a chance, taking a risk. Now they’re getting the return on their investment. It’s a beautiful thing to be a Dallas Cowboy.”
Smith missed all of his rookie season rehabbing and training to return from that knee injury. In his first full season, he was a rookie who was just there.
Last season, he showed zero trace of a knee injury, and was everywhere.
In the the final seconds of the first half at Houston on Oct. 7, Smith ran from his spot in the middle of the field, read the play, and beat Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson to the sidelines to prevent a touchdown.
No one with an injured anything makes that play. It was the type of play that had Smith ranked as a top five pick.
But that injury has everyone involved still just a bit spooked.
“It’s something that was severe that no one will ever forget,” he said. “Everyone is dealt their own hand, and it’s all about how you respond. That’s all that maters is what you do now. I’ve been able to come back and be strong. I’m going on my fourth year in the league, third year playing.
“I’m not physically limited or anything of that nature. Last year I played 95 percent of the snaps and was able to showcase that I am back,” Smith said. “There is no regret or anything of that nature. It’s about being great for this team.”
He has been that. He is healthy.
Will the Cowboys pay him like he is both?