Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith played every defensive snap against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, and finished with a team-high 13 tackles.
Smith had no complaints about being out there for all 69 defensive snaps, and would like to continue that trend going forward. But the Rams exposed him at times in the passing and running game.
After all, the Rams’ Todd Gurley had a career-best 215 yards from scrimmage.
Asked about his production, Smith said: “I think I had some good. I think I had some bad. So it’s all about eliminating the bad plays. But I’m loving my team and everyone is excited to have me out there.”
As far as areas of improvement, Smith pointed to pass coverage and tackling.
“Being sound on my coverage,” said Smith, who leads the Cowboys with 45 tackles according to the coaching film.
“I think making sure that I’m tackling, linebackers have to tackle, and that’s really the main thing.”
Smith’s return to the football field has been well documented. He overcame a serious knee injury sustained Jan. 1, 2016, something so severe that teams took Smith completely off their draft boards.
Smith said he “feels great” and just has typical football soreness after games. But it appears that he may be better suited with fewer snaps at this point.
Linebacker Anthony Hitchens is expected to return this Sunday and should relieve some of the pressure on Smith to play every down.
But the Cowboys remain high on Smith and his ability to contribute going forward.
“He has to get better at every area, but everybody on our team has to get better in every area,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Again he did some positive things in the game. He was productive. He made some hits. But there were some things from a communication standpoint and an assignment standpoint that he missed. And some things that we missed that contributed to a lot of their big plays.”