IRVING, Texas -- You can forgive Keith Smith if he feels like he is on a never-ending roller coaster.
For the fourth time this season the Dallas Cowboys called up Smith from the practice squad with injury concerns at the linebacker spot. This week Dekoda Watson has been ruled out because of a hamstring injury.
Injuries to Rolando McClain, Justin Durant and Bruce Carter forced the Cowboys to call up Smith at other times. He has not spent more than two straight weeks on the active roster. Just as soon as he has been called up, the Cowboys have released him. When Watson is health, he likely will be sent back down again.
“It comes with the territory,” said Smith, who has been credited with one defensive tackle and one special-teams stop by the coaches. “Just going up and down, I just got to be ready so when my opportunity comes I can take advantage of it every time. So I mean every week I make sure that my mindset is like I’m up and just go out there prepared for if somebody goes down and I’m up, then I’ll be ready.”
His brother, former Indianapolis Colts cornerback Jason David, has schooled him on life on the roster bubble. The Cowboys liked what Smith, an undrafted free agent, did in training camp and the preseason, but he was not able to stick on the 53-man roster at the start of the season.
“A lot of people don’t understand the process so every week that I get released and put back on the practice squad everybody is giving me the sympathy texts here and there, like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be OK,’ and, ‘It’s OK. Just keep your faith. I’ve had to go through it every time. That part gets kind of old, but I mean it is what it is. Not everybody knows what’s going on.”
There is a financial component to the moves. On the practice squad, Smith earns roughly $6,300 per week. On the active roster that jumps up to $24,705 per week.
“I would hope they mess that up one week,” Smith said, “but they’ve been on top of that though, trying to make sure I get the right amount.”