Smith racked up a team-leading 10 tackles in Sunday night's win over the Giants. His huge hit on Eli Manning in the red zone will make a lot of Cowboys' highlight reels at the end of the 2018 season, but in the here and now, Smith's IDP is soaring. He has 14 tackles, including a sack, through two games to Sean Lee's nine, and it looks like the torch is being passed as the leader of the Dallas defense to the younger linebacker.
Smith recorded four tackles (three solo) and a sack across 62 defensive snaps in Sunday's loss to the Panthers. Smith still may not be fully healthy, as he is coming off a prolonged recovery from the career-threatening knee injury he suffered in his final collegiate game with Notre Dame in January 2016. However, he is showing increased mobility as time goes on. He'll look to continue improving when the Cowboys face off with the Giants in Week 2.
Smith hopes to play without a knee brace during the 2018 season, Kate Hairopoulos of The Dallas Morning News reports. Smith recently parted ways with an Ankle Foot Orthosis foot brace that had been used as part of his broader recovery process from the career-threatening knee injury he suffered in his final collegiate game with Notre Dame in January 2016. After sitting out his rookie season with the Cowboys, Smith returned to play all 16 games in 2017 while sporting the brace, accruing 81 tackles, two forced fumbles and a sack. Even if he's still stuck with the brace when Week 1 of the upcoming season kicks off, the mere notion that Smith might be able to play without any extra stabilization offers encouragement that the leg won't be a recurring issue for the youngster throughout his career.
Smith finished the regular season with 81 tackles (50 solo), two passes defended, two forced fumbles and a sack in 16 games. While he had his ups and down as a rookie, it's still impressive that he was able to suit up for all 16 games given that he missed the entire 2016 campaign recovering from the catastrophic knee injury that ended his college career at Notre Dame. Cowboys starting middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens is a free agent, and if Hitchens heads elsewhere Smith could enter 2018 atop the depth chart at the position, a spot that would provide him with some intriguing IDP upside -- especially if he regains more of the elite athleticism he flashed in college with further rehab.
Smith had three tackles (two solo), one sack and a forced fumble Sunday against the 49ers. This marks Smith's first sack and second forced fumble of the season. Although he slots in as a backup, the 22-year-old has logged 44 tackles (23 solo) through six games, making him a decent IDP option and an excellent keeper-league asset.
|13||11/30||New Orleans Saints||20|
|16||12/23||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6|
|17||12/30||@New York Giants||28|