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Jaylon Smith makes himself presentable for the cameras Youth Jaylon Smith Jersey , then turns to his locker to grab one last thing before starting an interview: the neck pad given to him by hard-nosed defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to acknowledge the Dallas linebacker's physical style of play.The former Notre Dame standout is proud of the memento. It still hangs loosely around his neck in front of reporters weeks after he got it, while Smith invariably gets another question about the painstaking recovery from a devastating left knee injury in his final college game.Smith is doing more than just playing again two years after owner and general manager Jerry Jones gambled early in the draft on a player considered a top prospect before the career-threatening injury.He has helped the defense surge into the top five while Sean Lee missed three games with a hamstring injury, when the opposite often happened in recent years during the oft-injured two-time Pro Bowler's absences. The Cowboys (3-3) visit Washington (3-2) on Sunday."It's just about doing my job and understanding the player that Jerry drafted," Smith said. "He believed in me. The Cowboys organization believed in me, that I would get back to this point of being a top-five pick. It's not a surprise to me. It's expected. It was just a matter of time."With Lee out, Smith has a key companion in rookie first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who leads the Cowboys with 60 tackles while Smith has 57. No other Dallas defender has more than 35.But the 2015 All-America at Notre Dame is the middle linebacker making most of the calls and displaying leadership skills that attracted the Cowboys to him in the first place, when Dallas and plenty of other teams were wondering if he could play again.A case in point is also one of Smith's signature plays this season. Before sprinting to the sideline to deliver a hard shoulder hit that stopped Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson on fourth down near the goal line, Smith told DeMarcus Lawrence, "I got you."That was Smith's way of turning Dallas' star pass rusher loose on Watson, and believing he could clean up the play wherever Watson decided to scramble."It's just the trust, the growth and my leadership and my respect on this team," Smith said. "People understanding that they can count on me and this team believes that."Smith probably wouldn't have done that during his inconsistent debut a year ago, when it was generally acknowledged by coach Jason Garrett and others that he was forced to play too much because of injuries at linebacker and struggled as a result.This season, Smith is no longer playing with a foot brace designed to help overcome the nerve damage associated with tearing a ligament in his knee during Notre Dame's 44-28 loss to Ohio State in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day 2016.Marinelli says Smith's change of direction and lateral movements are the biggest differences from last season."And he's more comfortable http://www.cowboyscheapauthenticstore.com/jeff-heath-jersey-cheap ," Marinelli said. "Sometimes a guy can look a little bit slower, or hesitant when you don't really know what you're doing. It's our job is to make the complex simple for them, the irregular regular so they can see it and play fast. It takes time to do that."Marinelli's schemes haven't been big on blitzing since he came to Dallas, but Smith's skills and the aggressive philosophy of new passing game coordinator Kris Richard have changed that.Smith is second to Lawrence with three sacks and has eight QB pressures — three more than the rest of the Dallas linebackers combined."He might be one of the better blitzing linebackers I've been around," Marinelli said. "He's physical. He's fast. He is playing lights out."Asked if the play on the goal line against Watson could be one of those definitive moments in Smith's development, Garrett shot back, "Which one?"That was Garrett's way of saying the Cowboys have seen plenty of big plays from Smith this season. Smith says the same thing. And it fits with Garrett's feeling that there was never one moment where he said to himself, "Jaylon Smith is back."The Cowboys knew more about Smith's injury than most because team physician Dr. Dan Cooper performed the surgery. Garrett has always stopped short of calling that the primary factor in their decision to draft him."We heard so many great things about him as a guy," Garrett said. "Anybody who has any chance of coming back from an injury like he had, it really started there, the kind of person he is. I think that's shown through here the last couple of years."It used to show behind the scenes at the Cowboys' facility. Now it's showing on the field. With Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne anchoring the defensive line, and Adrian Peterson hardly looking like a 33-year-old, the Washington Redskins have established what sort of team they are. It's quite a drastic shift from who they've been under coach Jay Gruden until now.Their defense stops the run — gasp! — and their offense — get this! — moves the ball on the ground."It starts up front, in the trenches," Gruden said Monday. "Those big guys are doing a great job."He was talking about Washington's defensive front Youth Brett Maher Jesey , but he also might as well have been referring to the offensive line, which is led by left tackle Trent Williams and right guard Brandon Scherff and has been leading the way for Peterson.So bad against the run for so long, the defense is suddenly stout as can be. It limited the NFL's No. 2 rusher, Ezekiel Elliott, to 34 yards — his second-lowest output in the league — in the Redskins' 20-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Elliott's longest gain was 6 yards.That came a week after the Redskins limited Christian McCaffrey to 20 yards rushing and the entire Carolina team to 81 during a 23-17 win against the Panthers."We're making teams earn every blade of grass they get," Gruden said.Now comes another test for Washington, which leads the NFC East: rookie sensation Saquon Barkley and the last-place New York Giants next Sunday.The Redskins are giving up only 87.3 yards on the ground each game, third in the NFL. One key: Washington is one of two clubs to not have allowed a 20-yard run this season. Minnesota is the other."It's as much of a mindset as anything," linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said about stopping Elliott and the Cowboys, who had won four games in a row against the Redskins. "We definitely have taken it personally that they've had so much success running the ball against us the past couple of years."Truly, everyone has.Last season, Washington owned the worst run defense in the NFL, with opponents rushing for 134.1 yards per game. In 2016, it was 24th of 32 clubs at 119.8 per game allowed. And in 2015, 26th at 122.6 per game allowed.So this season has seen what Gruden called "a major improvement Cheap Travis Frederick Jersey ," one he attributed in part to the pair of first-round draft picks out of Alabama, Allen (who missed 11 games as a rookie in 2017 because of an injury) and rookie Payne.Safety D.J. Swearinger nicknamed that duo the Alabama Wall.On the other side of the ball, Gruden has embraced the running game much more than in his previous four seasons as a head coach in Washington.After Peterson's 99 yards on 24 carries against the Cowboys — the fourth time in six games this season he's topped 95 — the Redskins are third in the league at 29.5 runs per game and 14th at 119 yards per game.Those numbers are way up from the full 2017 season, when the team ended up ranked 24th with 25.1 runs per game and 28th with 90.5 yards per game.Under Gruden, the Redskins have never finished a season averaging more than 26.8 carries or 106 yards per game.They've also never had Peterson, who was available to any team when the Redskins signed him in the preseason."Adrian has been a big lift for us, without a doubt. We are 4-2, and he is big a part of it," Gruden said. "So we just have to keep feeding him."Notes: Gruden said that CB Fabian Moreau sprained his ankle and RT Morgan Moses injured his elbow against Dallas. CB Quinton Dunbar, who missed Sunday's game with what the team said was a bruised shin, was going to get checked out to see whether he had a nerve problem. Custom Arizona Cardinals Jerseys
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