FRISCO, Texas – It was a minor note in the middle of a much busier news day.
Way back on Jan. 18, at the exact same time that they were parting ways with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, the Cowboys handled a minor bit of business by signing Devin Smith to a futures contract.
Fast forward eight months, and it’s not looking so minor. Smith shined once again during Saturday’s preseason game against L.A., catching three balls for 24 yards, highlighted a beautiful eight-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter.
“It’s unbelievable,” Smith said after the game. “I feel like I’ve gotten better each week since we started, during training camp. I’m just looking forward to just continuing to stay on that track and just improve and just do what I can for this football team.”
That looks like an undeniable fact from watching this last week of training camp. Smith separated himself from the jumble of young receivers back in San Francisco, when he caught three passes for 54 yards against the 49ers.
He’s built on that every day since, with three strong practices last week in Oxnard, followed by an admirable performance in Honolulu.
“Me having this opportunity, just with everything that’s happened, it means so much to me,” Smith said. “So I just try to put everything into it, and usually when you do that, good things happen.”
For those unfamiliar with the story, a lot has happened since Smith entered the league in 2015. The former Ohio State star has a bigger profile than the average futures signing, largely due to his draft stock. Smith was drafted No. 37 overall by the New York Jets. He averaged 28.2 yards per reception during his final year in college, and he ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, so his big-play ability was undeniable.
Unfortunately, he was never able to showcase that in New York, as he had two seasons cut short by knee injuries. The second of those saw him miss the entire 2017 season, and he was waived during the summer of 2018.
With ample time to recover, Smith said he feels better than he has in quite some time.
“I definitely feel a lot stronger. I feel a lot more explosive, just from all the work that you have to do – all the maintenance stuff you have to do to keep up with it,” he said. “Every now and then it does ache, and it is tough at times. But I definitely feel a lot stronger.”
Smith is no stranger to the NFL at this point, so he’s aware that nothing is secured. It’s been a strong week, but training camp is not over despite the Cowboys returning to Texas. There are five more practices and two more preseason games until the roster is cut down. He can’t afford to let up.
Given the road he has traveled, that doesn’t seem likely to happen.
“The process of getting to this particular position – I’m more than thankful, I’m humbled,” he said. “I couldn’t do it at no better place than the Dallas Cowboys.”