Report: Cowboys’ Mazi Smith may be dealing with struggles beyond field

It wasn’t a great rookie season for Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Mazi Smith, and his sophomore year isn’t starting off any better. Smith’s shoulder surgery could be hampering his ability to make any drastic improvement before Year 2, and now it appears other factors are at play in his developmental curve.

In a recent podcast, former Cowboys scout and current media personality Bryan Broaddus hinted there may be some mental health angles to Smith’s struggles in his rookie season.

The team and Smith haven’t publicly shared anything along those lines as the second-year DT has rehabbing his shoulder and preparing for training camp. However it’s hard to fathom Broaddus bringing this up without verifying the accuracy.

It’s hard to ignore the pressures that come from being a professional athlete and a highly decorated one as a first-round pick. Combine those burdens with playing for such a high-profile team like the Cowboys while failing to live up to expectations and it’s understandable to see how Smith could be affected.

Smith’s words from his rookie training camp now come under speculation with this revelation. Smith indicated that he’s not one for talking and that the main thing he likes about playing football is being able to hit people. It stands to reason then the spotlight of being a first-round pick for the most famous franchise in sports and not having much success could be weighing on him.

Smith’s rookie season didn’t go planned. He failed to supplant veteran Johnathan Hankins in the starting lineup and struggled for most of the season. Growing pains are normal, especially for a DT, but Smith didn’t contribute at the level most expected from a first-round pick, and perhaps he took that hard. And with his shoulder injury keeping him away from on the on-field work until training camp at the earliest this season, Smith’s impact could be limited in Year 2 as well.

These could be contributing factors in Smith’s confidence level.

If the report is true, Smith’s mental health takes precedence over his play on the field. Calming his thoughts is more important than getting better on the field. There is also little doubt the Cowboys will support Smith as he goes through a difficult time in his young life as that is one thing the organization is famous for.

All the best to Smith if he’s working through any personal issues.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire