Report: Jaylon Smith set to start at MLB vs. Giants

Jaylon Smith's long return to football will conclude with Dallas' first defensive snap on Sunday evening.

The Cowboys linebacker, who missed his entire rookie season with a significant leg injury, is reportedly slated to start at middle linebacker in Dallas' home opener against the Giants, per ESPN.

Smith hasn't started a competitive game of football since he left Notre Dame's loss in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl with ACL and MCL tears. The potentially career-ending injury dropped Smith from the top five of the 2016 draft all the way to the second round, where the Cowboys took a chance on the linebacker.

Smith has progressed well this offseason, earning praise from owner Jerry Jones, coach Jason Garrett and a multitude of teammates along the way. The linebacker made his preseason debut in Week 2, and Smith recorded four tackles, including one for loss, in two preseason games.

On Sunday, Smith will likely be doing it for real, tasked with shutting down an improved Big Blue offense alongside Sean Lee and Justin Durant.

In a game featuring an unsuspended Ezekiel Elliott, Offensive Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott and the always entertaining, and potentially sidelined, Odell Beckham, Smith's debut might be overshadowed from the jump, but it shouldn't be forgotten how long his journey back to the field has been.

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