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Jaylon Smith feeling like himself again


CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 27: Jaylon Smith at th NFL Store during NFL Draft Week 2016 on April 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for New Era Cap)

Tasos Katopodis

The Cowboys won’t know everything about Jaylon Smith until he gets into live action, but they do know the linebacker has come a long way in the past year.

Smith used his rookie season as a redshirt, rehabbing from a devastating injury to his left knee. He returned to practice this offseason and said he finally feels like himself again.

It’s a great feeling,” Smith said, via David Helman of the team website. “I’m out there, and I’m grinding, and I’m feeling like myself. That’s all that matters.”

Smith understands the questions: Will he return to the form that made him a top-10 prospect before his bowl game injury? Will the damage to the peroneal nerve in his leg, which created drop foot, force him to wear an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO)? Can he be effective if he has to wear the brace?

“It’s understandable,” Smith said of the questions. "[Everyone] wants to know. That’s the reality of it. You guys want to know. . . . I have no control over people not being able to see [him in practice].”

While most players dread camp, Smith can’t wait.

“To be able to compete at a high level,” Smith said of his expectations. “That’s something that I’m really looking forward to back in Oxnard, Calif., being able to be on the field again and running and competing with my guys is something that I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to being out there.”