The Dallas Cowboys have a rookie linebacker named Jaylon Smith who has earned himself quite a bit of pub heading into the 2017 season. He was taken in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft by Dallas, even though it was likely he would fail to suit up that year due to the serious left knee injury that he suffered in his final collegiate game with Notre Dame.
Now it appears Smith is ready to play to open 2017, reportedly fully healed from the injury he suffered on Jan. 1, 2016.
“I’ve heard some doctors and trainers, who haven’t ever seen Jaylon, say there’s no way he could play in the NFL with an AFO brace, and they’re right,” said the Cowboys’ associate athletic trainer/director of rehabilitation, Britt Brown. “With the brace he is wearing, Jaylon can take his natural linebacker stance and come off the ball the same way he would without a brace.”
Smith was named a consensus All-American during his junior season with the Fighting Irish, projected as a potential top draft choice in the 2016 NFL Draft. He decided to play in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State on New Year’s Day, and with one movement, his career changed forever.
“There’s an adjustment period for him and we have to understand that the football expectations have to be monitored a little bit, taking away the injury and all that,” said Brown.
Now, he joins a Dallas team that is coming off a 13-3 regular season in 2016 that saw them claim the NFC East division crown, but fail to protect home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, losing their first game to the Green Bay Packers.