IRVING, Texas – It's bound to be a topic of speculation, given the investment the Cowboys made in Jaylon Smith.
But for the time being, team owner/general manager Jerry Jones said there isn't much of an update about Smith's recovery from the major injury that made him a Day 2 draft pick, rather than a top 10 selection.
"His progress is really undetermined – but that was to be expected. He is not off plan at all," Jones said Tuesday during an interview on 105.3 FM The Fan.
The Cowboys made Smith the No. 34 overall pick in the draft back on April 29, just a few months after he tore both the ACL and LCL in his left knee. The 21-year-old linebacker is on the mend from those injuries, but he also faces the steep challenge of repairing the damage done to the peroneal nerve in that leg.
With an expectation that the nerve can grow roughly one inch per month, it's a lengthy process that Jones reiterated is still ongoing.
"The rejuvenation of the nerve that would help him get in the position to actually hit the playing field is not complete, but it is not behind – it was to be expected," he said. "Our doctors are not dismayed at all – I'm not."
The Cowboys' confidence stems from the fact that the team's head physician, Dr. Dan Cooper, has also been Smith's surgeon during this process. That gave them a comfort level in deciding to draft him, and it gives them confidence that Smith is on the road to recovery.
Ever the optimist, Jones remained hopeful that the rookie could be made available at some point during the 2016 season. And even if that's not the case, he added that he's encouraged by what Smith has done to this point.
"It's the type of thing that could really come around, and if it comes around then we'll take advantage of it. He's such an impact player that we would try to get him on the field," he said. "In the meantime, he's doing many things that would let you use the word progress. And of course he has unbelievable work ethic and resolve to help the team."