The Dallas Cowboys are still holding out hope that second-round linebacker Jaylon Smith can play at some point during the 2016 season.
According to Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones—who hasn’t ruled out Smith returning to play in 2016—does not plan on placing Smith on season-ending injured reserve.
The Cowboys will not IR Jaylon Smith, Jerry Jones said. They hope he can play at some point this season.
— Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) May 5, 2016
Smith tore his ACL and LCL and suffered nerve damage in his left knee during his final collegiate game at Notre Dame. A top-5 talent in the 2016 class before the injury, Smith fell to No. 34 overall—where Jones and the Cowboys bet on the game-changing linebacker getting back to the player he was pre-injury.
Smith is still dealing with a “drop-foot” issue, which prevents him from raising his foot or performing lateral movements with the knee.
While Smith’s ligaments will heal in time for him to play in 2016, the regeneration of the nerve in his knee will be a waiting game. And until the nerve fires back up, Smith probably won’t be playing in the NFL.
Cowboys team physician Dan Cooper, who performed the surgery on Smith’s knee, has reassured Jones that he believes the nerve will recover.
The assumption on Smith throughout the process has been that 2016 will be a medical redshirt year. The Cowboys clearly feel more optimistic about his chances of playing next season.