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Rod Marinelli on Jaylon Smith's debut: 'Oh boy'

Jaylon Smith finally made it on to the field last weekend, logging 12 snaps and one tackle in a win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli raved about the linebacker's first action.

"Oh boy. Good instincts. Speed," Marinelli said, via the Dallas Morning News "Man, that was a heck of a play he made on that tackle. You could see his speed. He's got natural instincts with leverage. And he's just so hungry. The energy. He took another step."

As for playing time on Saturday against the Raiders, head coach Jason Garrett said Smith will play at least as much as he did in last week's tilt.

Smith has impressed coaches after missing all last season while rehabbing from a major knee injury that led to nerve damage. Marinelli's praise of the 22-year-old linebacker is notable because unlike some in the Cowboys organization, the DC has been restrained this summer regarding his expectations of Smith.

Dallas is still likely to keep it slow with Smith as we ease into the regular season, but his first preseason tackle displayed exactly what the Cowboys were hoping to get when they made him a second-round selection in 2016.

Smith starts in the A-gap on the third-and-9 play, retreats into his zone, reads the underneath throw and immediately breaks on the play for the tackle. On the tackle, he showed speed, vision, mental acumen and tackling ability. The Cowboys' defense would be massively upgraded if Smith can grow into a full-time role.

It's just one step, but it was a big one for Smith. The Cowboys hope more "oh boy" moments from the linebacker come when the regular season kicks off.

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