Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee was placed on injured reserve (IR) on Wednesday in anticipation of season-ending surgery he will undergo on a torn ligament in his big toe. The first thought that probably crosses the minds of Cowboys fans when thinking about Lee’s injury is the fact he won’t be on the field making plays. Indeed, that will hurt the team in ways that can’t be described. However, it’s the mentality of Lee’s teammates and coaches about which the Dallas faithful should be most concerned.
Lee is one of those players who is reliable. He never misses routine plays, but Lee also makes big plays in critical moments that most players just can’t. His 10 teammates on the field with him have become accustomed to that and have altered their games to best support Lee and make him more successful. Now those players will have to work together to try to make up for the production lost by Lee’s injury.
Try as they might, the Cowboys cannot possibly replace Lee. Dan Connor and the newly-signed Ernie Sims will be called upon to replace Lee in the lineup, but it will be Bruce Carter who will be called upon to shoulder the load of the tackling duties on defense. Lee was not only the defensive captain, but the signal-caller for Rob Ryan‘s unit, a job that now belongs to Carter.
The Cowboys had big things in mind for Carter when they selected him with in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. No one hoped his chance would come like this, but it’s here nonetheless and now is his chance to prove he can be an important part of Dallas’ success for the next decade. However, the Cowboys’ are mostly concerned with the current season. At 3-3, Dallas’ playoff hopes are still alive, but guys like Carter will have to step up in Lee’s absence to ensure that doesn’t change.