Jaylon Smith's Nerve Damage Reportedly Has Not Seen a 'Significant Change'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2017

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 27:  Jaylon Smith at th NFL Store during NFL Draft Week 2016 on April 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for New Era Cap)
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

More than one year since suffering a major knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith has reportedly not made noteworthy progress with regard to his nerve damage.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, sources indicated there has been "no significant change" in impacted nerves.

Rapoport added Smith will likely become the first player to wear a brace for his drop foot, and the Cowboys are expected to allow him to play despite his nerve not firing. 

Smith missed the 2016 season after the Cowboys selected him in the second round (No. 34) of the NFL draft.

Despite the nerve situation, Cowboys Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones expressed confidence Tuesday that Smith can be a difference-maker in 2017, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News:

Jon Machota @jonmachota

Stephen Jones: "We've had news along the way that's made us think [Jaylon Smith playing at elite level is] more likely...sooner than later."

Smith won the Dick Butkus Award as college football's best linebacker at Notre Dame in 2015, and he would have been a high first-round pick if not for the injury.

As seen in this video courtesy of AWP Sports, Smith is beginning to show some of his trademark burst after more than a year on the shelf:


#Cowboys @thejaylonsmith working on position drills in preparation for OTA's. #ClearEyeView https://t.co/QGg3OngfuD

With linebacker Rolando McClain suspended for another full year, Smith's potential return would fill a major area of need for the Cowboys.

Dallas' defense was a surprise in 2016, ranking fifth in points allowed. If Smith becomes a contributor next season, the Cowboys could close the gap between their defense and dynamic offense even more.