Byron Jones: Jaylon Smith 'balling out' for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys third-year cornerback Byron Jones isn't worried about being an elder statesman on a depleted defense with low expectations.

That's mostly because he's high on a pair of players Dallas fans have yet to see on the field.

On NFL Total Access on Monday, Jones said rookie Taco Charlton and second-year linebacker Jaylon Smith are way ahead of expectations. Smith, who missed all of last season while recovering from a serious knee injury he suffered at the end of his college football career, has been especially impressive.

"He's healthy, he's 100 percent," Jones said. "His mind -- he doesn't worry about what happened two years ago. He doesn't care about that. What he's trying to do, I think his motto is clear-eyed vision. He's doing well at that. He's balling out for us so far. He's learning the playbook and he looks healthy running around."

On Charlton:

"We like him. He's a big dude," Jones said. "I didn't realize he'd be that big. He's a solid guy. We're excited to have him coming off the edge. We've got some good pass rushers so far and we have good young talent as well. So we're excited about what we've got on our d-line and they'll be a good unit for us this year."

After losing Brandon Carr, Barry Church, Morris Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox this offseason, believing in the Cowboys' defense requires some faith in players like Smith and Charlton. It's not outside the realm of possibility that a rookie defensive end could come in and cause some trouble.

But seeing Smith become the player owner Jerry Jones promised more than a year ago would truly be stunning. There were plenty of evaluators who thought the Notre Dame standout would never be the same again after his injury. If he's managed to convince both Byron and Jerry he's 100 percent, something must be breaking right for the Cowboys.

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