The Cowboys will not place Jaylon Smith on season-ending injured reserve, owner Jerry Jones said Thursday.
“Although we’ve got a redshirt for the most part, I will not IR him,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “We will take the chance that he could get back at the latter part of the season, maybe into the playoffs. He will not be IR’d. That obviously means we think he’s got possibly some play time [in 2016].”
The Notre Dame linebacker ranked among the top-10 prospects before he tore the anterior cruicate ligament and lateral collateral ligament in his left knee in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1. Smith also suffered nerve damage in the knee, leaving uncertainty about when, or even if, the nerve will refire.
Still, the Cowboys made Smith a second-round pick.
Jones said the team will not put a timeline on Smith’s return.
“That’s not productive,” Jones said. “We’re going to leave it open. Obviously wouldn’t dare push the long-term rehab of his knee, but on the other hand, he is a competitor, and he’s driven. Everybody’s different. We want to keep that [possibility of playing open]. He’s a difference-enough maker, and would be, that to get some games out of him at the end, especially in the playoffs, it’s worth dreaming about if you will.”
In 39 starts at outside linebacker, Smith made 293 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks while breaking up 11 passes and forcing three fumbles.