Cowboys LB Vander Esch is healthy and motivated; LB Smith switches from #54 to #9

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The Dallas Cowboys are in the middle of offseason workouts with one OTA in the books, and another one coming next week.

Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is one of the players we are keeping an eye on this year because he’s coming off injuries,again.

Those injuries were part of the reason Dallas didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on LVE’s contract.

That would motivate some, but Vander Esch says he didn’t need that to get him going this season.

Vander Esch said, “I didn’t have to use that to be motivated to play better or to work harder. I’ve been on a mission since the season was over because we just can’t have a season like we did last season. It’s coming this year, so I’m controlling what I can control and let the rest take care of itself.”

One thing that jumped out at some during the most recent OTA’s was the number change by linebacker Jaylon Smith.

His first three seasons Smith wore number 54 for the Cowboys.

Thanks to a rule change by the NFL, Smith is wearing number 9, now.

He knows that number is associated with Tony Romo, but it’s also been his number every year he’s played except the last three in the NFL.

Smith said, “New players coming in and always getting the opportunity to sometimes carry on legacies. That’s the opportunity the Jones family granted me with wearing #9. It’s definitely a blessing. It’s been a part of my life. I’ve been wearing #9 since I was nine-years-old. Through peewee, middle school, high school, college, All-American games. You name it.”

The Cowboys OTA’s continue on Monday in Frisco.

The first mandatory mini-camp starts on June 8.

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