Mike Zimmer on Mazi Smith: We'll start with basics, get him back to being a good player

Cowboys defensive tackle Mazi Smith is heading into his second season, but it sounds like defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is viewing it as a second rookie year for the 2023 first-round pick.

Smith played in every game for the Cowboys last season, but only played a little more than a quarter of the snaps and finished the year with 13 tackles. He is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and Zimmer suggested that the team will be taking things back to square one with Smith once he is cleared to return.

"Obviously he was a high draft pick, and I heard that he kinda struggled a little bit last year," Zimmer said, via Jon Machota of "We’re gonna start with the basics, get him in a good stance, get him using his hands the right way, getting his footwork the right way, and then kinda go from there. . . . We anticipate that he’s gonna be a good player like he was in college.”

It also sounds like Smith is going to be a bigger player. He dropped weight after being drafted in order to be, per Zimmer, an "attacking, three-technique to get up the field" but the plan for this season is "to probably play blocks a little bit more" in the hope that leads to better results up front.