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Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith 'ready to play some ball' after knee injury wiped out rookie year

Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith 'ready to play some ball' after knee injury wiped out rookie year
Published On: Fri, Jun 16
Aug 1, 2016; Irvine, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Look closely enough, and you can detect a slight limp as Jaylon Smith walks across the field. There are times, such as in a seven-on-seven drill at the Dallas Cowboys final minicamp practice Thursday, when it seems to take a beat for the linebacker to change direction and accelerate.

But watch him in individual drills as he flashes his downhill burst " one of the traits that compelled the Cowboys to draft Smith in the second round last year, despite the devastating knee injury that wiped out the former Notre Dame stars rookie season " and its easy to remember the player who, under different circumstances, couldve been a top-five pick.

I feel like me. I look like me. I am me, Smith told USA TODAY Sports, upbeat as ever while preparing to leave town for the pre-training camp break.

Im Jaylon Smith. Ready to play some ball.

The plan is for Smith to play in 2017. How much (and how well) he plays remains a mystery.

He figures to start out in a part-time role while getting used to playing football again, though the Cowboys vision is for Smith to eventually be an every-down player " starting middle linebacker in the base defense, then staying on the field with standout weak-side backer Sean Lee in the nickel package.

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