FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys' 2017 rookie class will take the field together for the first time next weekend at rookie minicamp.
A top draft pick last year, linebacker Jaylon Smith, is expected to join them.
Head coach Jason Garrett told reporters last Friday that he anticipates Smith being eligible to participate in this year's rookie camp after spending last year on the Non-Football Injury list.
"My understanding is he will be allowed to be in it," Garrett said. "The discussions we've had over the last few days, my understanding is he's allowed to be in it."
The Cowboys spent a second-round pick on Smith last April, five months after the former Notre Dame All-American suffered a torn ACL and nerve damage in his final college game.
The team is now entering Phase Two of its voluntary offseason program, which includes three weeks of on-field individual and team work on a "separates" basis with no live-contact offense vs. defense permitted. Garrett said back at the NFL Scouting Combine that he anticipated Smith being able to do everything from the outset, though they'll monitor his work as they would with any player coming back from an injury.
The Cowboys have been pleased with Smith's rehab in a foot brace over the past year, though there's an element of patience required with the damaged nerve: it must regenerate on its own, with no timetable.
"We've gotten, at the end of this week, we had – he has been tremendously encouraging with his work and how he is moving and is feeling and all of that," team owner/general manager Jerry Jones said last Friday. "Well, we got some great testing done from Dr. [Dan] Cooper this week that really showed marked increase in his sensitivity in his nerves and things like that. Really noteworthy. We got that Thursday, Friday. Anyway, that area is really looking up."