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FRISCO (105.3 The Fan) – Rookie linebacker Jaylon Smith tells me he attempted to play this season while still wearing the brace that prevents his drop foot — the result of his loss of nerve feeling in his knee from an injury in his final game at Notre Dame — and adds that he is feeling a sensation that suggests the regeneration of the nerve.

“I think I could have played and competed at a pretty elite level,” Smith told me Thursday. “But we’re going to be patient and trust God’s timing.”

Smith has missed this entire rookie season after being selected in the second round of last spring’s NFL Draft. His season officially ended when the team placed him on season-ending reserve last month.

Said coach Jason Garrett: “He’s made tremendous progress. It doesn’t surprise us one bit.”

Smith has an especially rosy attitude toward his rehab, but on Thursday for the first time he was less suggestive of progress and more definitive.

“Yeah, it’s regenerating,’’ he said. “It’s doing great deeds.’’

There are no guarantees here, but Cowboys management is increasingly optimistic about Smith being on the field next year.

And the faith-based Jaylon Smith?

He’s always been positive.

“I understand,’’ he said, “God has a plan.

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