Very few can dispute that Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee was well on his way to an All-Pro 2012 season.
That is before an unpredictable season-ending toe injury landed Lee on injured reserve, just six games into the season. In 2013, the Cowboys, Lee’s agent and Lee, himself, all hope that he can stay healthy, not only because the Cowboys will be transitioning to the Tampa Cover 2 defense, but also because Lee will be playing for a new contract.
When I look at Lee, I see the definition of head coach Jason Garrett’s “right kind of guy.” Lee is tough, he is smart, and above all he is productive on the field. He is one of the most promising players on the team and is a part the young core of players that are expected to make plays under the tutelage of new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
What he isn’t, however, is durable. So, given Lee’s injury plagued past, is it reasonable to think that he will make it through the entire season? Should the Cowboys invest the money in a player who hasn’t played a complete season the past five years?
In 2008, Lee tore his right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) as a member of Penn State, which cost him the season. In 2009, he sprained his left knee, which caused him to miss some time. In 2010, he missed time due to a nagging hamstring injury, which started in training camp and lasted the entire season. In 2011, he dislocated his left wrist, which caused him to miss time and in 2012 he went on IR after six games with torn ligaments in his big toe.
There is no disputing that Lee is one of the most exciting players on the Cowboys roster, but he cannot stay on the field. I have a feeling that although Lee and his agent want a long-term commitment from the Cowboys this season; the team will wait-and-see, if Lee can play the middle linebacker spot in the 4-3, and more importantly, if he can make it through an entire season.
Don’t be surprised if Lee ends up being franchise tagged at the end of the season, unless the Cowboys work something out where they don’t have to break the bank for an injury plagued player. Also, keep in mind that, in Kiffin’s scheme, it’s the safety that is responsible for quarterbacking the defense.