make a bigger splash on the next series when he ran right
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hat moment meant everything to the Fort Wayne native, 2012 IndyStar Mr. Football and former Notre Dame star. Smith made his first appearance in an NFL uniform Saturday night as the Dallas Cowboys’ starting at middle linebacker in their 24 19 preseason victory over the Indianapolis Colts at AT T Stadium, an appearance that marked the end of a long, hard journey.
That journey began 596 days ago on Jan. 1 , 2016, when Smith, playing for Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, suffered a devastating https://www.cowboysdaclub.com/sean-lee-jersey-c-42.html knee injury that included torn ligaments and nerve damage, leaving some doubts about his NFL future.
Dallas took a shot on Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, but the injury cost him his entire rookie season. He spent the year going through a long, grueling rehab process , pushing himself with the idea he would get back in the game.
It finally happened 3 34 into Saturday night’s game, when Smith lined up in the middle of the Cowboys defense as the Colts took over at the Dallas 25 yard line. Smith said he never doubted he would get there.
“Not one moment,” he said. “It’s been a long journey. … My clear eyed view, my focused vision and determined belief, earned dreams, it got me here today.
“This was the biggest adversity I’ve had to go through in my entire life. … It definitely tested my faith. I stuck by my clear eyed view and it’s led me to this point.”
Smith said he had been out so long he had trouble remembering the pregame ritual he’d been performing since his football career began.
“You know, the music I listen to, the pregame warmup and all that,” he said. “I was able to figure it out. I go out on the field and take a lap, I line up on the 9 yard line and do my stretches. I wore No. 9 my whole life https://www.cowboysdaclub.com/zach-wood-jersey-c-41.html and it definitely means a lot to me.”
Smith’s appearance was a brief one. The coaches placed a 10 12 snap “pitch count” on him, and he wound up playing 12 plays on three Colts’ possessions in the first and early second quarter.
He was involved in one play, recording his first pro tackle by stopping tight end Jack Doyle for 3 yards on a third and 9 play late in the first quarter. He celebrated with furious fist pump.
“A moment I’ve waited for for a long time,” he said. “And it’s just the beginning. There are many more to come.”
Smith did miss an opportunity to make a bigger splash on the next series when he ran right past Frank Gore in the backfield, allowing the Colts running back to pick up 3 yards.
More important, though, Smith looked smooth and fast, showing no effects from the injury.
“I had expectations that he would get here because he’s so driven,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “The way he was moving around out there I was thinking maybe we could get 10 more plays out of him.”
Afterward, Smith was asked if he felt he was at 100 percent on the field.