FRISCO, Texas – It's never safe to give into the Training Camp hype early on. It takes a little time to believe in the low-risk, high-reward roster additions no matter the level.
However, what defensive end Aldon Smith has shown in his first two practices as a Dallas Cowboy is exciting.
In desperate need of a replacement for Robert Quinn this offseason, the Cowboys front office struck a deal with Smith for a one-year, $910,000 base salary contract with up to $4 million in incentives. A player who has not seen game action in the NFL since he appeared in nine games for the Oakland Raiders back in 2015.
Questions swirled around Smith this offseason as a former pro-bowl that reached incredible heights earlier in his career, to now having to fit into a new situation and reestablish himself. Would he be in shape? Can he adjust to a new system? Is there a way to get back to near his previous form?
Smith has seemingly answered the first two of those questions and is well on his way to tackling the third when the season kicks off. During camp, he has shown his athleticism is up to par as he's in the backfield constantly and shows no sign of rust, even out in the Texas heat.
Throughout the first few practices, Smith has gained valuable first-team reps while the team awaits the arrival of the newly signed Everson Griffen. While these looks are potentially short-lived, he has taken advantage of the snaps. In the first two practices, Smith has spent multiple plays giving Tyron Smith fits off the edge, complemented the presence of DeMarcus Lawrence on the opposite side, and has been active with his hands in batting down passes.
It's early in camp, there has yet to be pads, and obstacles are just beginning heading into a year unlike any other. The bottom line is Smith has been good. He's fit in seamlessly to the point to where it's impossible to tell he spent a half-decade out of the NFL.
More importantly, he gives defensive coordinator Mike Nolan a bevy of options on how to rotate and freshen the defensive line. As someone who could stand up on the edge, provide run support, and bat down passes at the line of scrimmage, Smith fits the bill as an all-around edge rusher with upside to make an immediate impact. Which so happens to be all the Cowboys are asking of him in 2020.
The expectation is not to have an All-Pro type of season or 19.5 sacks like Smith had in 2012, but if there is a rotational role and an opportunity to supplement Griffen at the defensive end spot.
But if his trend of impact practices continues, and Smith flashes versions of his new self, the sky could be the limit for the savvy veteran.