IRVING, Texas – Keith Smith has gotten used to the ride at this late point in the season.
The Cowboys called the rookie linebacker up to the 53-man roster on Wednesday afternoon after making the decision to place Jack Crawford on injured reserve.
It's not exactly new territory for Smith, as he has bounced between the practice squad and the active roster several times throughout the season. The Cowboys' persistent injury problems at linebacker have necessitated that movement, and this week it will be Dekoda Watson's hamstring issue that will give Smith an opportunity on game day.
"It's out of my control. I just go with the flow and make sure I'm ready to at all times to step in and make plays," Smith said.
Smiths' persistent movements on the roster have been a novelty this season. He was first called up in Week 3 against St. Louis, and he was quickly sent down again before Week 4's game against New Orleans. One week after that, he was called up for the Houston game – and then quickly sent down for the trip to Seattle.
He was on the active roster for four games – New York, Washington, Arizona and Jacksonville – before he was once again sent down ahead of last week's game. The process is something others haven't adapted to as well as he has.
"A lot of people don't understand the process," Smith said. "So every week that I get released and put back on practice squad, everybody is giving me sympathy texts, like 'Oh, it's going to be OK."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and the coaching staff have been upfront with Smith throughout the season, according to the rookie. Every time Smith has made a roster move this season, he has known about it beforehand.
"Coach Garrett, usually when they're going to release me, he'll brief me on what's going on and that they're going to bring me back on practice squad," Smith said. "Whatever the case is, they'll brief me at the beginning of the week if I'm probably going to be up – just to prepare like I'm going to be up."
As for Crawford, the thumb injury he sustained against the Giants is now a season-ender. Both Crawford and Jeff Heath had surgery on their thumbs Wednesday morning. Neither injury seemed that serious in nature, as Heath is still considered a possibility to play on Thursday.
As Garrett said on Monday, decisions on situations like Crawford's often come down to math.
"If you're in Week 10 and he has a four-to-six week injury, you say, 'OK, how much does he have after that,'" Garrett said. "Is there another player that we can bring in here to fill that roster spot?'"