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Can LB Jaylon Smith be part of Giants’ future?

After impressive debut, former Cowboy has three games to state his case

Dallas Cowboys Training Camp
Jaylon Smith
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

How did linebacker Jaylon Smith manage to play a productive game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys just two days and one walk-through practice after signing with the New York Giants?

“I’m a pro. I’m a pro’s pro, a guy that’s always going to be prepared and ready for the opportunity, so that’s really what it was,” Smith said on Friday. “I’ve been playing this game since I was seven years old, so getting in here learning the system. The coaches are doing a great job at giving me the basics and allowing me to go out and just play my game.”

The Giants signed Smith to their practice squad last Friday, elevated him to the game day roster on Saturday and he played 17 snaps on Sunday that included some impressive moments.

“With this being my sixth year in the league, I’ve been in a few systems now, so you kind of understand as time goes on that teams are running the same stuff,” Smith said. “It’s just different terminology, different formats, different ways to execute, and it’s all about consistency.”

Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham noticed the speed at which smith played.

“You saw the pace in which he played. I remember one time last week when he came off the edge blitzing, you just saw the pace at how he did it. I was impressed by that,” Graham said. “Just the conversations you have with him, he knows football, so that’s a positive there. He’s been on good teams, been around good coaches. It’s been really good to have him right now. He’s trying to improve, trying to learn the system, but you saw the pace out there, the physicality. He had a good play when he scraped over the top on a stretch run, just natural linebacker instincts, stuff that he can just do naturally.”

Can Smith handle a bigger role over the final three games? Beyond that, can the 26-year-old use this end-of-season opportunity to work his way into the Giants’ plans for 2022?

In the short-term, Graham expects the Dallas Cowboys 2016 second-round pick to play more snaps.

“Whenever you play well, your role expands,” Graham said. “The more he knows about the system and the scheme, which you give him another week, the more possibility for him to play more, yes.”

On this third team this season, Smith said he is going “day-by-day.”

“This team has welcomed me. These guys that I was drafted in the same class with, we’ve linked up and met before. Leonard Williams’ agent is my cousin,” Smith said. “Just understanding the whole dynamic of what New York offers. My brother (Rod Smith) spent some time here, so I’m getting some great feedback on just the building, the locker room, the training staff and me just taking it all in, but I’m focused.”

After four seasons as a mainstay on the Dallas defense, Smith was cut this season after just four games and two starts. The Green Bay Packers signed him, but Smith lasted just two games and played only 27 snaps before he was sent packing again.

He called all of “business and political.”

“It’s a humbling experience. It’s my first year really dealing with the politics and business side of the National Football League, but I’m a guy that I’ve been through so much, nothing can stop me,” Smith said. “I’m a guy that’s going to continue to work, continue to learn. Just a humble servant. But a guy that’s young and got a lot of ball left playing at a high level. It was a blessing to be able to show that versus the team that drafted me last weekend. Now, it’s just about moving forward.”

Smith has three games left to show the Giants he is a player they should move forward with.