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Jaylon Smith: Breaking Down His Much Anticipated Return

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Star Studded Draft: Could Dallas' 2016 Class Be All-Time Great? 1

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The Dallas Cowboys took a huge risk when they decided to draft Jaylon Smith 34th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. There were a lot of other players available that could have made more of an immediate impact, but the Cowboys opted to go a different direction by drafting the talented linebacker out of Notre Dame.

Jaylon SmithThey were rolling the dice that he would be able to make a full recovery from the devastating knee injury he suffered in Notre Dame's Bowl game against Ohio State. Luckily, it is looking like the dice won't come up snake eyes, because he should be back to 100% for the 2017 season.

Smith's return to the field has been highly anticipated and has a lot of us anxiously awaiting to see how much he can help improve the Cowboys defense.

I thought that this would be a good time to break down Jaylon Smith's game to take a little bit of a closer look at what he brings to the Cowboys defense, and where he might need to improve.

I studied a lot of Smith's film and decided to use Notre Dame's game against the University of Texas in 2015 for this article, because of all of the different ways he was utilized on defense.

Let's first take a look at some of his weaknesses, because there's not very many.

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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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59 Comments
  • BeirutWedding

    But when you say, “100%” you’re still not saying “the nerve is firing” (whatever that means), am I right?

    • Brian Martin

      The nerve in his knee is regenerating or “firing”. That basically means that there won’t be any nerve damage, which was the concern. Smith has also said he his close to returning to his 4.4 speed. Everything is pointing to him making a full recovery by the start of the 2017 season.

  • dallas1966

    Absolutely!!

  • deal with it

    I’m anxious to see the kid make it but knowing The DC’s 2nd round pick “luck” or history (whatever it is) I’m still reserved.Sean Lee was a 2nd rounder & it’s only taken 6 years to get him on the field for a full season.

    • jcobwebs

      But he is SO WORTH IT!!!

      • deal with it

        yep,but Sean Lee is the exception(al) to the rule.

    • Brian Martin

      Hopefully the Cowboys second round draft history is changing for the better. I’m really hoping Jaylon Smith succeeds.

  • Arvelt

    Great article! I am really excited about this kid. He looks fast enough to play safety! You need two legit linebackers in this league to have a good defense. I see the cowboys winning for years to come because of this draft class!!!

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks for reading. It’s always good to get positive feedback. Hopefully the 2017 draft class is just as good as the 2016.

  • Wilson Torres

    listen people jaylon smith is awesome he can cover he’s fast so we have two great linebackers we need a passrusher and a lock down cornerback get rid of carr

    • Brian Martin

      I agree we need a dominant pass rusher. Unfortunately, they don’t grow on trees. They are hard to come by and come at a high price in free agency.

      • Wilson Torres

        brian do you think we should address a defensive end first or a lock down corner

        • Brian Martin

          The Cowboys need to stick to their board. If DE or CB is the top player on their board draft them. But, if a WR or TE is the higher rated player you kind of have to go that direction. Of course, there are tiebreakers where if similar ranked players are there, you go with the position of need.

  • TD4SPORTS

    I would love for Hitchens to excel in the middle and flank him with Smith and Lee

    • Brian Martin

      I think we will likely see Smith starting at MLB, Lee at WLB, and Hitchens at SLB.

      • TD4SPORTS

        Yeah but imagine the speed on the outside if Hitchens could hold down the middle. It would be even better for them to be able to switch up in different looks and that would make our LB group Strong.

        • Brian Martin

          I like the idea of providing different looks with the linebackers, but I don’t know how well Smith would do is a strong side LB. Maybe an obvious passing situations where he could be used as an extra pass rusher.

          • TD4SPORTS

            Yes, that”s it and he could be used like Davis in Carolina and Miller in Denver because we know MarinellI likes Flexibility. I feel throwing him in the middle taking on 300 lb linemen right now opposed to using his quickness against TEs would be a mistake.

          • Brian Martin

            I think we will see Smith play the majority of his snaps at MLB. That’s what they drafted him to do, but that’s doesn’t mean they won’t use him differently in certain situations.

      • Wilson Torres

        we need a reciever

        • Brian Martin

          Wilson, I completely agree with you. They will address this in the off-season.

          • Wilson Torres

            brian i was seeing this kid from usc adoree jackson conerback kick returner do it all kid wow bring him to dallas

          • Brian Martin

            I like him, but there are a lot of other CBs I like better. Fabian Moreau (UCLA) is one of my favorites.

  • Wilson Torres

    cowboys need to get rid of free williams carr

    • Brian Martin

      Terrance Williams and Brandon Carr are both free agents. Doug Free is the only one still under contract.

  • Wilson Torres

    brian tell me the truth do we need brandon carr he can’t cover a pregnant lady get rid of him williams to catches with his body not his hands we need a reciever cornerback get rid of free to he hold to mush and a passrusher

    • Brian Martin

      I would be opposed to bringing Brandon Carr back. I think he gets judged by the $50 million contract he signed. He is reliable and hasn’t missed a game in his entire career.

  • Wilson Torres

    and move byron jones at cornerback and get a safety via free agency andscandrick is always hurt and gets beat alot

    • Brian Martin

      I actually believe that Byron Jones is better at safety. He made a lot of really good plays last season, but unfortunately everybody only remembers the bad ones. He will only continue to get better, especially if they can improve their pass rush.

      • Wilson Torres

        brian i understand he never misses a game but carr gets beat a lot and 1 interseption in 5 years come on we can do better and free he is another guy we need out holding penalties getting beat sack elliott ran a 65 yarder holding free come on forget he has a year left we got collins and cooper

        • Brian Martin

          I don’t disagree about Carr. I believe they will upgrade the CB position either through free agency or the draft. They can do that and still possibly bring back Carr for added depth at an affordable price. The only problem about getting rid of Free is there isn’t anybody to take his spot. Collins is a better OG and Cooper is a free agent. If Chaz Green can remain healthy it might be his job to lose.

      • Wilson Torres

        and scandrick better play better this year comimg up always hurt

        • Brian Martin

          Hopefully 32 can use the off-season and get healthy. I’m not sure he was ever fully healthy the entire year last season.

          • TD4SPORTS

            We have got to upgrade the CB, RT, # 2 Receiver, and DE spots Period to have a chance at a SB.

          • Brian Martin

            It is going to be really interesting to see what the Cowboys do at right tackle. This draft class isn’t the best when it comes to offensive lineman. But, I do agree with you that all of these positions need to be addressed.

          • TD4SPORTS

            I think we should go after an Athletic LT in the draft that no one has high on their board in maybe the 6th round and move him to RT. A hidden gem could be found from a small School or maybe a pure RT that we have scouted early. I always feel Scouting is the most important part of the draft.

          • Brian Martin

            I’m sure they will be doing their due diligence in researching all of these draft prospects. To me, scouting offensive lineman is the hardest of all of the positions.

  • Wilson Torres

    get adoree jackson usc cornerback

    • Brian Martin

      If he is still there in the third round and the Cowboys haven’t added a CB, Jackson would be a good option.

      • Wilson Torres

        alright brian you know the kid from florida ain’t bad either fabian moreau iamgoing to look him up

        • Brian Martin

          I’m not sure which Florida CB you’re talking about, Teez Tabor or Quincy Wilson, but I like them both.

          • Wilson Torres

            brian the cowboys are talking smith as a pass rusher i don’t know maybe sometimes but he’s a solid linebacker we need to address that draft day or free agency we need a reciever for williams and a shut down corner wilson from florida if available

          • Brian Martin

            Using Smith as a pass rusher in certain situations makes sense, but I think he will be the starting MLB. This is a pretty good draft to find a WR to replace Williams. This draft is also deep at CB. I think the Cowboys can definitely find some rookies in this draft class that could start this season.

          • Wilson Torres

            brian martin listen what do you think the boys need to do first in the draft a wideout or a passrusher or a couple of cornerbacks

          • Brian Martin

            I think they need to stick to their draft board and take the best player available. If you start drafting because of needs, then you’re passing up good players and that could end up getting you in trouble.

          • Wilson Torres

            brian this kid charles harris he’s got a lot f quicness and spins wow he’s what we need

          • Brian Martin

            Yeah, he looks like a nice player. I personally like Carl Lawson better.

          • Wilson Torres

            ———- Forwarded message ———-

          • Wilson Torres

            carl LAWSON TO SHORT

          • Brian Martin

            He’s just an inch shorter than Charles Harris

          • Wilson Torres

            brian good evening listen i am a hard core cowboy fan listen we need to get this defense legit allright it’s been a long time one good thing we have we’re young so we have to get another reciever for williams we need a right tackle we need cornerbacks a passrusher unless tapper comes around and lawrence

          • Brian Martin

            I think it’s possible we see an upgrade to all of those positions.

          • Wilson Torres

            brian listen who do you see pick 28 the boys taking let me know

          • Brian Martin

            It’s still way too early to even give an educated guess. Really need to see what they do in free agency first. Positions like CB, DE, WR, TE, and RT will all certainly be in play. Really just about any position except QB and RB.

          • Wilson Torres

            thank you brian i saw your picks for dallas it was good

  • Wilson Torres

    brian good evening what’s up free agency is coming if we still have free we’re in trouble

    • Brian Martin

      The word is he’s contemplating retirement. He’s been serviceable, but they could definitely use an upgrade.

  • Wilson Torres

    brian long time listen i’am hearing that terrall mcclain might not be back wow that will be a tough lost but free one more disaater year

    • Brian Martin

      Terrell McClain seems to be receiving quite a bit of interest in free agency. We will have to wait and see what his market value is, but it looks like it will be unlikely he will return to the Cowboys. Personally, I think I’m okay with that. Cedric Thornton should be able to fill in nicely.

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Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018

A groin injury sustained last week against Jacksonville won't send Tavon Austin to injured reserve, at least for now. The Dallas Cowboys receiver has elected to forego surgery at this time, giving him a chance to return to action in 2018.

There was concern that Austin could land on IR initially following the Jaguars game, but he sought a second opinion this week. It appears that this new information was enough for Tavon and the Cowboys to decide that surgery can wait.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Sounds like WR Tavon Austin will not have surgery at this time after getting a second opinion on his groin injury. He could miss a few weeks, however. #cowboyswire

Austin should miss this Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins. He has been the team's punt returner this season and a useful tool on offense, playing mostly receiver but also lining up the backfield at times.

Despite his limited opportunities, Tavon is tied with Cole Beasley for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns in 2018.

How long Austin will remain out is unknown at this time. After the Washington game, Dallas will have their bye week and then host the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.

Both of these are games that the Cowboys, feeling good after a blowout victory over Jacksonville, should be able to win without Austin. But they would certainly like him back for the Week 10 road game with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In Tavon's absence, Cole Beasley will likely field punts. We may see more of Deonte Thompson in the speed routes that Austin ran on offense, though Dallas could also finally see what recently returned Brice Butler has to offer.

With an expiring contract this year, Tavon will likely want to get back soon and trying to improve his stock for the 2019 offseason. Hopefully, he can still have a positive impact on his value and the Cowboys season in the weeks ahead.


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Terrance Williams: Details, Impact of 3-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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3 Current Starters Cowboys' Fans Hate, But Shouldn't 1

Terrance Williams was already missing games on injured reserve, but now the Dallas Cowboys receivers is going to lose some money as well. Williams was finally hit with a three-game suspension by the NFL, starting immediately,  for his public intoxication arrest last May.

Dallas placed Terrance on IR in Week 5 just a day before their game against the Houston Texans. Williams had been struggling with a foot issue since the offseason, which included a surgery that he hadn't fully recovered from.

Many were surprised that Williams wasn't suspended to start the season, given that his arrest occurred several months prior. But when charges were eventually dropped after Terrance took part in some required alcohol education courses, it appeared the league might be letting the issue go.

However, as Cowboys fans know all too well, Roger Goodell's NFL operates its own judicial system.

In Williams' case, the suspension will only result in lost game checks. Players still get paid when on IR, but Terrance will lose that amount of his $3.5 million base salary.

Because he can serve the suspension while injured, Terrance will still be eligible to be recalled from injured reserve in December after sitting the mandatory weeks.

The real issue for Williams now is how this event, and his general fall from grace in the Cowboys offense, will affect him in the next offseason.

Did Terrance Williams' Big Game Quiet His Doubters?

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Terrance is in just the second season of a four-year, $17 million contract he signed in 2017. If he's released after this year, Dallas would save $2.25 million of his scheduled $4.75 million cap hit in 2019.

Williams' cap hit isn't the issue by itself. That would be a bargain for a significant contributor in your offense, even if he was just the third receiver.

But Terrance appears to have fallen well below that spot on the depth chart. Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup are the top three receivers these days, and veteran Deonte Thompson has also been getting looks. Dallas also brought back Brice Butler a few weeks ago, though he hasn't really been worked in yet.

Not only that, but the Cowboys will have the option to recall Noah Brown from IR in just a few more weeks. He was one of their more intriguing young prospects prior to getting hurt.

Dallas could let Terrance come back next year to compete, hopefully with full health and less personal baggage. But after six seasons, they may be ready to move on to players with more room to grow.

For now, though, Terrance Williams is out of action and out some money. We'll see what the future holds.


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Report: Austin Heading to IR: Deonte Thompson is the Next Man Up

John Williams

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Wide Receiver Deonte Thompson Making Preseason Debut Vs. Cardinals

Tavon Austin's stint with the Dallas Cowboys has been up and down through six games. He's provided some big play ability on the outside, but hasn't really had the running room on jet sweeps that the Dallas Cowboys would have hoped for when they acquired Austin from the Los Angeles Rams during the 2018 NFL Draft.

Now it's being reported by Brandon George from the Dallas Morning News that Austin may be headed to injured reserve for a groin tear suffered in the Dallas Cowboys week six win over the Jaguars.

Brandon George on Twitter

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said WR Tavon Austin will be getting a second opinion on his injured right groin in the next day or so. He didn't discount possibility of him being placed on injured reserve.

 

Whether Austin goes to injured reserve or not remains to be seen, but we do know that he'll miss week seven and likely won't be able to suit up for a while. Though Austin hasn't been relied upon much, he has been a threat that opposing defenses have had to account for in both the passing and running game. Tavon Austin leaves a bit of a hole.

Enter Deonte Thompson.

Deonte Thompson, who was signed by the Dallas Cowboys this past offseason, hasn't been the same type of rushing threat that Austin has been in his NFL career. Thompson's only carried the ball two times in his career for -5 yards. However, Thompson has some skills that could bode well should the Dallas Cowboys decide to use him in the jet sweep role that Austin is vacating.

He's been a return threat in his NFL career, averaging 24.8 yards per return. He's had returns of 47, 64, and 74 yards. He's also had some good moments running after the catch in his career, though he hasn't gotten many opportunities.

Thompson's a former track athlete and before the 2012 NFL Draft ran a 4.30 40 yard dash. He has the speed and a bit more size than Austin to make some things happen if given the opportunities.

The jet sweep has become an important staple in the Dallas Cowboys offense. Even when they don't hand it off on the sweep, they use it in play action, to set up screens, and even to get the defense thinking about it on direct hand offs to Ezekiel Elliott. They aren't going to want to scrap that part of the playbook just because Austin will be sitting out. Deonte Thompson can be that guy. Much like Marquise Goodwin in San Francisco, Thompson has elite speed.

He's not just football fast. He's fast-fast.

When I was in high school, I played baseball. In the baseball program I was fast. The fastest on the team. That was my game. Infield singles. Stretching doubles to triples. Stealing bases. I was fast. I went out for track my senior season because I thought, "hey I'm fast, let's see what would happen if I ran the 100-meter-dash." I found out really quickly that there is a difference between baseball fast and track fast.

The same applies to football and track. Deonte Thompson is track fast. He's a guy that the Dallas Cowboys need to get the ball to on those jet sweeps to continue to threaten defenses sideline to sideline. When it's working, as we've seen with Lucky Whitehead in the past and Tavon Austin this year, it opens up a lot for the Dallas Cowboys offense.

It's likely that Cole Beasley gets those first jet sweep attempts, and as a trusted veteran for the Dallas Cowboys, he probably should. But, if Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan want to continue to use the jet sweep to the offense's maximum benefit, they need to start showing it with Deonte Thompson. He has the speed to get to the corner and take it to the end zone from any where on the field.

Here's an example of what Thompson can do with the ball in his hands.

NFL on Twitter

109 YARDS TO THE HOUSE!!! Deonte Thompson returns the missed field goal and runs it all the way back for a @ChicagoBears TD! #CHIvsAZ https://t.co/k9IfkZMoIY

 

With Tavon Austin set to be out -- possibly for the season -- it's time to see what Deonte Thompson can do. The Dallas Cowboys need to get a win here to get above .500 for the first time this season and set themselves up to make a run at the divisional crown. Deonte Thompson's ability with the ball in his hands will give them a good opportunity to do just that.


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