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3 Reasons Why Jaylon Smith Will be Even Better in 2018

Brian Martin

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3 Reasons Why Jaylon Smith Will be Even Better in 2018

The Dallas Cowboys took a chance in the 2016 NFL Draft when they decided to select Jaylon Smith, a linebacker out of Notre Dame, with their second-round draft pick. Smith was undoubtedly one of the most talented players in the 2016 draft class, but there were concerns he may not be able to play a single down in the NFL.

A devastating knee injury nearly ended Jaylon Smith's NFL career before it even began. Fortunately though, due to his diligent approach to rehab and mental fortitude, he attacked his rehabilitation head on and it's looking as if he could make a full recovery.

"I'm going to be better than Notre Dame 100 percent," he said recently at the Cowboys' seventh annual Reliant Home Run Derby. "People thought I'd never play the game again, and I've been able to accomplish that. Each and every day I've gotten better. Last year each game I improved. It just feels great to continue to be able to improve my health."

I don't know about you, but if Jaylon Smith is anywhere close to the player he was at Notre Dame, he's going to be even better in 2018. But, I think he's going to be even better and I'll tell you why.

Confidence and Experience

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

For Jaylon Smith, being able to play an entire 16 game season after suffering what many thought to be a career ending injury probably did wonders for his psyche. That alone should make him a better football player in 2018 because it builds up his confidence.

A confident player is able to just go out and do his job and not have to worry about anything else. I can almost guarantee he was a little bit worried about how his knee would hold up, at the very least it was something that was stuck in the back of his mind. Now all he has to worry about is his preparation. Thankfully, that's where a year of experience comes in handy.

While redshirting his rookie season, he was able to pick the brain of Sean Lee. Learning how to prepare from one the best was probably invaluable for his development. But, there's nothing like getting out there and actually getting game experience. He now understands the speed of the game and can better prepare himself both physically and mentally to hold up for an entire season. All in all, the confidence and experience he gained so far should make him much better player this season.

More Playing Time

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

With Anthony Hitchens sidelined due to injury at the start of the 2017 season, the Dallas Cowboys had no choice but to throw Jaylon Smith into the fire as a starter. He clearly had quite a bit of rust to knockoff, but everyone could see flashes of the player that was once considered a surefire top five draft pick in 2016 NFL Draft.

Once Hitchens returned from his injury, the Cowboys thought it best for both he and Smith to split time. Even as a rotational player, Smith managed to rack up 99 total tackles (according to coaches film), finishing second in tackles only behind Sean Lee.

More playing time doesn't always equate to better performance, but I wouldn't be surprised if Jaylon Smith leads the team in tackles in 2018. It's unclear exactly what position he will play this year, but no matter what his role has, we should expect to see much more of his signature swipe celebration.

No More Limitations

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith played all 16 games in 2017 with an AFO brace that help support his drop foot condition caused by nerve damage. Fortunately, it's looking as if that will no longer be required, which means he shouldn't have any limitations moving forward. This alone should make him a much better player.

Watching Smith play last year you may have noticed that he was much better when he was moving forward then he was moving side to side. With the AFO brace it limited his movement and flexibility side to side, but since that is no longer required, he should be a much better sideline to sideline linebacker in 2018.

Some of Jaylon Smith's best attributes as a linebacker while at Notre Dame was his ability to play all over the field as a traditional LB and even as a pass rusher. Regaining his flexibility and movement will help him return to his collegiate form, and quite possibly exceed it. I'd expect the Dallas Cowboys to use him in a variety roles on defense, much like they did at Notre Dame.

Do you think Jaylon Smith will be better in 2018?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • Charles Vine

    More Cowboy Delusional Propaganda! It never ends.

    • Zac H

      What are you doing here? Clearly, you are interested in this amazing comeback story; Or, perhaps you are nervous (as a redskins fan) that the Cowboys have a player that is capable of making it even more difficult for the Redskins to finally get a win against Dallas (2 years in a row we have swept you). Take your pathetic comment and go home.

  • Ismael Ramirez

    God bless this young man hope he gets his opportunity to make some plays out there for us cowboy fans super excited to see him play better than last year

  • oneputter

    we all certainly hope that he can be what he once was and more so better than he was.

    i’m rooting for the guy, he was a force at ND.

  • Chuck Wright

    Another good read. . ..

  • Tommy Davis

    Excellent article Brian, I agree 100%, I’m not surprised by the comments of the Cowboys haters.

Star Blog

Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Defense Better Or Worse Then Last Season?

Playing in the National Football Conference, the Dallas Cowboys have a difficult task ahead of them if they are to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Even still, they've become a very underrated football team due to their 9-7 record last season. The Cowboys struggled in many areas and with the Philadelphia Eagles crowned as Super Bowl Champions, everyone has forgotten about America's Team.

2017 was an awful year for the Cowboys. It seemed like a roller coaster of success, putting up an impressive performance one week only to disappoint the next one. Let's be honest with ourselves here and talk about what really ended the Cowboys' last season.

Injuries.

As much as we talk about how there shouldn't be any excuses in football - the Eagles made a huge statement by winning it all with a backup QB and other key starters missing - we can't deny the impact of these injuries.

Anthony Hitchens, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott all missed some time last year, affecting the team's performance week in and week out. Had the starters been healthy, the truth is this team would've been in the playoffs.

Heading into 2018, the Cowboys will face a very similar situation. This year, starters make Dallas a serious contender. Even if they're playing in a conference that will feature a lot of quality teams, the Cowboys are a team that could beat any team in the league if healthy.

Even the dreaded wide receiver position - which has been famous this offseason for the lack of a #1 receiver - won't be as bad as we make it out to be starter-wise. A starting trio of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley doesn't really sound bad.

Heck, not even Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods starting at safety is concerning. They have what it takes to be decent starters. Sure, Heath isn't a guy who will make the Pro Bowl, but his skills will show on the field once the season starts in September.

The Cowboys' starters will do just fine this season. If the team's fate is up to them, they are in a very good spot. The same can not be said about depth, though.

Except for the defensive line, every other position lacks depth. If Sean Lee goes down, the linebackers stop looking like a three-headed monster. Same goes for the cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis seem like a good group but as soon as one of them suffers an injury, the Cowboys will be in trouble.

We're in for an exciting season with a lot of young talent waiting to breakout. The Cowboys are underrated this year. They may not be among the NFC's favorites, but they truly have what it takes to replicate the success they had in 2016. However, it seems like circumstances have to be ideal for them to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.

With a little bit of luck, they'll bounce back this season.

Tell me what you think about "Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle Heating Up 1

Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.

The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.

As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.

Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.

Terrance Williams

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.

Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.

Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.

I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.

All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.

How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?



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Star Blog

Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?

Brian Martin

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Decision not to Play Dan Bailey against the 49ers a Concern? 1

With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.

Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.

I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.

I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?

Dan Bailey

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.

Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.

Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.

Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?



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