Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jaylon Smith Practicing Without Brace At OTAs

May 23, 2018 - 3:28 pm

FRISCO (105.3 The Fan) - Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett confirmed Wednesday that linebacker Jaylon Smith was no longer using a brace for his drop-foot condition.

Garrett told media members ahead of the team's second day of OTAs that Smith didn't use a brace Tuesday and wouldn't use it for Wednesday's practice. 

When asked about the ankle brace after practice, Smith told reporters including 105.3 The Fan's Mike Fisher that he hadn't been wearing the brace this week.

Smith went on to tell reporters that while he currently wasn't using it, there are no guarantees he'll play without it during the upcoming season. 

"Everything is heading in the right direction. I'm blessed," Smith said. 

Back on April 10, Smith told 105.3 The Fan it's less about "where he plays'' than it is about "how he plays" this coming season. 

"I don’t know anything about playing the SAM and things like that," said Smith in a visit with Ben & Skin. "But I know last year I played MIKE linebacker, and I grew each week. And I’m ready to tackle even more. Playing side-by-side next to Sean Lee, I’m excited.''

There is much to be excited about, given the fact that Jaylon recently Fish that the strength and flexibility in his leg is increasing while the dropfoot problem is fading. That devastating injury -- sustained in Notre Dame's final game of the season before a 2016 NFL Draft that saw Dallas roll the dice with a second-round pick -- is still part of the Smith story.

But he wants so much more. And the Cowboys need so much more.

"It showed on the field, week by week my growth, my comfort and just being able to play the position again," said Smith, who sat out that first season but was largely a starter at MIKE in 2017. "I’m prepared and I’m ready to tackle even more this year. It’s going to be a great year."

Last season, he played 55 percent of the team's defensive snaps and played in all 16 games. There has been conversation about his role changing, maybe to strongside, or maybe just to find ways to keep him on the field in more circumstances alongside Lee. The most important goal, of course, is for Smith to somehow return to his Notre Dame-level of excellence, when he was a consensus All-American and the Dick Butkus Award winner.

"Obviously I can do a lot,'' Smith said. "I’m going to do what the coaches tell me to do, and I’m going to achieve greatness."