OXNARD (105.3 The Fan) – Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says Jaylon Smith will “absolutely” play in a preseason game.

Garrett made the comment when asked about Smith at his daily press conference Tuesday.

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Garrett added that Smith won’t practice today but will return for tomorrow’s practice.

Smith’s “baseline’’ has risen to the point that “he can play football,’’ Dallas Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said on Monday after the middle linebacker participated in practice.

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“We are seeing how he progresses,” Jones said. “No need to jump ahead and make a decision whether it’s this week or next week. We will see how he progresses this week and see how he responds. … The time will come when we decide, ‘Has he had enough to put him in a game situation against the Rams?’

Jones insisted that Smith regenerating nerve in his left leg is healthy enough to allow him to participate in a real game, something the former Notre Dame standout hasn’t done in 19 months since a devastating knee injury. And Dallas’ schedule offers such an opportunity. Smith didn’t play in the preseason opener in the Hall of Fame Game against the Arizona Cardinals. But the second preseason game is against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, so …

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“If you left it up to him, he would be going every play in the Hall of Fame Game,’’ Jones said. “We have to protect Jaylon at the end of the day for Jaylon. He is going to around here for many years to come. We have to handle it the right way for Jaylon. … Jaylon is going to be around here for the next 10 years and we don’t want to do anything that’s not taking care of Jaylon.”