Cowboys' Aldon Smith on NFL Reinstatement: I Want 'To Pick Up Where I Left Off'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2020

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 15:  Aldon Smith #99 of the Oakland Raiders looks on during a timeout against the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter of their NFL football game at O.co Coliseum on November 15, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith said he's ready to showcase his "natural gift to play ball" after being reinstated by the NFL on Wednesday.

Smith, who last played in November 2015, told TMZ Sports he's now sober after substance-abuse problems led to an indefinite suspension from the league. The 2011 first-round pick explained he's an "overall better person" than he was earlier in his career.

"My goal is to pick up where I left off," he said. "That just means I always work hard. I always play hard. I want the same thing out of my teammates and I'm sure those guys in the locker room feel the same way, and with that mentality, the sky is the limit. I think as long as we do what we need to do and everybody plays to their potential anything's possible."

Smith was off to a blockbuster start to his career with 47.5 sacks in 59 games across his first five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. He tallied 19.5 sacks in 2012 with the Niners.

"I got 20 sacks—19.5—I say 20 because it was 20. But, I was able to play at a high level with a lot of other things going on in my life," he told TMZ. "With how life is for me now, I'm just looking forward to seeing what I can do."

The 30-year-old Mississippi native also said the four years away from the game have helped his body remain fresh despite hitting the age plateau where players decline.

"So I still feel young. I don't have the mileage on my body," he said. "I still feel great when I go to the gym. I still feel young and fresh. So, if anything, I'm looking forward to what I'm going to be able to do out there."

If Smith can return to form, the Cowboys have the potential to feature one of the NFL's best pass-rushing duos as he joins DeMarcus Lawrence, who'll be seeking his own bounce-back year. He posted 25 sacks between the 2017 and 2018 campaigns but took down the quarterback just five times last season.

It's an edge-rushing group that could be further bolstered by Randy Gregory, who was suspended for the entire 2019 season. His agent, Peter Schaffer, told Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk on Wednesday they're "working through the process" of reinstatement.

All told, Dallas finished 19th in the NFL with 39 sacks in 2019, but it has the potential to skyrocket into the top five in that category in 2020.