The Dallas Cowboys remain confident in Jaylon Smith’s return to the football field. Here’s why you should too…
With the offseason at full tilt, the Dallas Cowboys must assess whether or not they can rely on certain members of the team. One of those members with a considerable amount of orbiting question marks is second-year pro Jaylon Smith.
By now, even the most casual Cowboys fan has heard the story on Jaylon. Star linebacker form the University of Notre Dame suffers a catastrophic knee injury in the final game of his college career. Once considered the best defensive player of the draft, Smith finds himself falling out of the first round entirely.
The Dallas Cowboys, known for drafting injured players on the cheap, swoop in pick up the superstar linebacker at the top of the second round.
It’s possible the “inside knowledge” they received from their team doctor wasn’t a super-secret medical prognosis but rather optimism towards his performance IN the brace.
It was said to be a gamble from Day 1. Jaylon Smith suffered nerve damage and was subsequently suffering from foot drop (aka “drop foot”). He had difficulty walking like a normal person; much less perform like a superstar athlete.
But the Dallas Cowboys invested, feeling confident in the work of their team physician (the one who coincidently did the surgery). What followed was a predicted redshirt season that kept Smith out of action and fully immersed in recovery.
Foot drop (or drop foot) is, medically speaking, a pretty gnarly condition. People who suffer from it are unable to lift the front of their foot. They often drag their toes across the ground as they step forward. To avoid dragging, people will often fundamentally change their gate entirely. They high step, or even swing the leg off to the side (Check out WebMD for more).
It’s pretty clear this could pose a significant problem for athletes in professional sports outside of golf and billiards. It’s also clear why so many in Cowboys Nation are pessimistic about his successful return to the game.
But then this happened…
While this certainly isn’t live football action, it’s one hell of a workout and skills test. Having recently re-watched hours of 2017 combine video, it’s clear that Jaylon is able to do virtually all of the things that this new class is doing – only better.
Ready or Not
The gamble on drafting Jaylon Smith largely hinged on whether his nerve would begin firing. A flip of the coin was not something many GMs wanted to hinge their careers on, so they avoided him. But what if the Cowboys didn’t consider it a gamble at all? What if the Cowboys felt confident playing him with or without the drop foot, thus making the nerve almost inconsequential?
As Ian Rapport said shortly after Jaylon posted the video, “the nerve has seen no significant change”. He followed that up by saying the Cowboys are not waiting and are “proceeding as if it won’t and he’ll play anyway.”
And that may be the key to the whole thing.
The Cowboys clearly feel as though the brace that Jaylon wears is enough. Maybe they always thought that too. It’s possible the “inside knowledge” they received from their team doctor wasn’t a super-secret medical prognosis but rather optimism towards his performance IN the brace.
Just the past few months, Jaylon Smith has shared a pretty manic relationship with Cowboys Nation. Reports about the nerve’s lack of progress tempered the bustling enthusiasm spawned from watching the video.
The Plan All Along?
The popular sentiment now seems to be that Jaylon will probably return but he’ll be a shell of his former self. As a natural pessimist I can appreciated that type of guardedness but it seems the theorist in me is taking over, leaving me with optimism of all things.
The way things look today is that Jaylon Smith, sans nerve, is a far better athlete than we ever thought he could be. Essentially meaning the nerve isn’t quite as make-or-break as was initially reported. In addition, there’s a good chance the Dallas Cowboys knew that when they “gambled” their second round pick on the young man.
Obviously this all remains to be seen but don’t let the generic medical prognosis’, of which we all know very little about, keep you from appreciating how good Jaylon Smith looks right now. Jaylon Smith may not be the second-coming of Ray Lewis anymore but he still clearly has the potential (and work ethic) to be great. Get excited. It’s ok.