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 recorded a team-high eight tackles in Thursday's 28-6 loss to the Chargers.
It was his highest total since Week 4. While Smith is no longer in the starting lineup despite Sean Lee (hamstring) remaining sidelined, he'll likely see his snap count trend back up at the expense of veteran Justin Durant if he continues making plays.
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.
Smith is expected to settle into a reserve role Sunday against the 49ers with fellow linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) on track to return from a two-game absence, Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports.
With either Lee or Anthony Hitchens having missed all five of the Cowboys' games to date due to injury, Smith has enjoyed a productive run in a starting role, amassing 41 tackles over that span. Smith should still be a fixture in certain defensive packages Sunday, but an expected downturn in his snap count will limit his IDP utility going forward.
Smith racked up a team-high 10 tackles in Sunday's loss to the Rams.
It's his second straight game with double-digit tackles, and while the Cowboys defense as a whole clearly missed Sean Lee (hamstring), Smith's personal production benefited from the veteran linebacker's absence. Anthony Hitchens (knee) has begun practicing, but the original timetable for his return to the lineup was after the team's Week 6 bye, which should leave Smith as the starting MLB -- and a viable IDP play -- for at least one more game.
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