With Anthony Hitchens on pace to return, the Dallas Cowboys have a decision to make at middle linebacker on the horizon.
Hitchens missed the team’s first four games due to a preseason knee injury. He practiced on a limited basis last week and there is a high probability that he could play in Week 5 versus the Green Bay Packers.
The fourth-year linebacker’s absence paved the way for Jaylon Smith.
Smith’s filled in admirably in Hitchens’ absence. The 6-foot-2 linebacker who missed all of last season recovering from a career-threatening left knee injury currently leads the Cowboys in tackles this year with 34.
The return of Hitchens creates an intriguing competition at the top of the Cowboys’ middle linebacker depth chart.
In the short term, Smith will probably remain as team’s starter while Hitchens gets acclimated back into the daily NFL grind. Cowboys owner and general Jerry Jones said as much in a radio interview on Tuesday when asked if Hitchens would regain his starting spot back. Jones sees them both playing a lot.
“Well, I don’t know about that,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan’s Shan and RJ show, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “I see them both playing a lot.”
In the long term, barring any health setbacks, Smith is the plan at middle linebacker for the Cowboys. Hitchens’ injury cleared the way for Smith and the younger linebacker ceased the opportunity. The Cowboys will rotate Smith and Hitchens in for the time being but we know how this movie will eventually end. Smith is ultimately going to be the team’s permanent starting middle linebacker.
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