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Cowboys Linebackers Interested in Jaylon Smith’s Knee

I’ve never bought into the idea that Dallas’ second-round rookie, linebacker Jaylon Smith, would play in 2016. His knee injury seemed far too serious to be worth the risk of trying to rush him onto the field. Still, there was a lingering hope that he might have a quick recovery and be able to contribute soon. ESPN’s Ed Werder all but smashed that hope with his report yesterday: No big deal, in my opinion.

Jess Haynie

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Jaylon Smith

I've never bought into the idea that Dallas' second-round rookie, linebacker Jaylon Smith, would play in 2016. His knee injury seemed far too serious to be worth the risk of trying to rush him onto the field. Still, there was a lingering hope that he might have a quick recovery and be able to contribute soon.

ESPN's Ed Werder all but smashed that hope with his report yesterday:

Ed Werder on Twitter

I'm told #Cowboys No. 2 pick @thejaylonsmith has experienced no significant improvement in injured nerve so far. Playing 2016 seems unlikely

No big deal, in my opinion. It just confirms what the majority of us already believed about Smith and maintains the status quo.

If anything, it only draws our attention even more to two of the Cowboys' other linebackers.

Rolando McClain

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Linebackers Interested in Jaylon Smith's Knee 1Dallas re-signed Rolando McClain in early March to a one-year, $4 million contract with some heavy incentive bonuses. It's a mercenary deal that hopefully keeps McClain, who has well-documented motivation issues, productive and available. Along with the 2016 bonuses, Rolando McClain will be thinking about his free agency next year.

McClain will turn 28 during the summer of 2017, making this a critical season for him. That's still young enough for teams to give you a long-term deal, but also at the end of the spectrum. If Rolando McClain doesn't have a standout season for Dallas, it could knock him off the radar for most other teams.

Jaylon Smith's knee only further incentivizes Rolando McClain to perform. If it goes poorly, McClain could find that new contract right here in Dallas. If nothing else, he may be able to get another one-year deal as an insurance policy against Smith's health.

Anthony Hitchens

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Linebackers Interested in Jaylon Smith's Knee 2

AP Photo/James D Smith

After a strong 2014 rookie season, Anthony Hitchens looked like a future stud at middle linebacker. However, he was not as good in his opportunities last year. The fact that Dallas even drafted Jaylon Smith in the second round, knowing the risks, says something about where they are on Hitchens' long-term prospects.


Plenty of guys have "sophomore slumps" and come back to have great careers. Anthony Hitchens could easily be one of those and will now have less worry of Smith taking knocking him down the depth chart. If Rolando McClain has an injury or some other cause for absence, as he usually does, then Hitchens will likely still be the first man up to replace him.

In fact, given Smith's health and McClain's personal issues, it's not unreasonable that Hitchens could walk into the 2017 season as the starting middle linebacker. He should not be discouraged by the drafting of Jaylon Smith, but start pushing even harder. Opportunity still abounds.

~ ~ ~

Football is a tricky business when it comes to the health and success of teammates at your position. Publicly, nobody roots for the guy in front of them to have problems. But still, "deep down in places you don't talk about at parties," these guys can't help but get excited when their own security or opportunity increases because of a teammate's misfortune.

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Linebackers Interested in Jaylon Smith's Knee 3Make no mistake, Jaylon Smith could be the most talented linebacker on this team right now, and especially among the middle linebackers. The consensus is that he would've been a Top-5 talent in this last draft if not for the knee injury.

Guys like Rolando McClain and Anthony Hitchens can't worry about that, though.

They need to just give their all in the present and wait to see what that means for the future. Even if it doesn't come from the Cowboys, the rewards are out there for quality linebackers. It's a position where few teams are ever satisfied.

Nobody knows that better than the Dallas Cowboys.


Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason

Matthew Lenix

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Report: Amari Cooper Likely out Until Week 1

Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.

The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.

"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."


The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.

However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.


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Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith

Kevin Brady

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Jaylon Smith, Eagles

The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.

ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...

Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.


Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.

And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.


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Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List

John Williams

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Auto Draft 6

Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.

"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."

Todd Archer - ESPN.com

This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.

It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.


The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.

While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.

With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.

With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.


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