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Injured Hamstring Ends Lee’s Day; MRI Scheduled
NEW ORLEANS – A seemingly harmless tackle became the last sight the Cowboys could afford to see.
Sean Lee injured his hamstring while bringing down running back Pierre Thomas after a short gain through the air at the 14:05 mark in the second quarter, ending the night early for the Cowboys’ revered linebacker.
“It’s extremely frustrating for me, being out there and not being out there, letting people down, letting my teammates down and letting the team down,” Lee said. “I have to find a way, I’ve talked about it before, to stay on this football field.”
Lee missed 10 games last season after toe surgery and had to field questions about being injury-prone throughout the offseason, but he stayed healthy throughout training camp and the early portion of the 2012 season. Lee said the only positive about this injury is he knows he’ll be able to come back from it.
He didn’t need an X-ray after Sunday night’s loss to the Saints, but Lee plans on getting an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.
“Very concerned about him,” said owner/general manager Jerry Jones. “We obviously missed him, and we will miss him.”
Lee wasn’t the only defender to add to an already extensive injury list for the Cowboys. Linebacker Justin Durant also left the game with a hamstring injury, and DeMarcus Ware was forced to rotate in and out after getting banged up in his first game back from a thigh injury.
The Saints torched the Cowboys for 625 yards of total offense and set an NFL record with 40 first downs, while the Cowboys moved the chains just nine times. Lee said he still has complete faith in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s scheme, and Church echoed similar thoughts, but the losses on defense are starting to become too great to overcome.
“We’ve got to find a way to get healthy defensively, there’s no doubt about it,” Lee said. “I need to find a way to be on that football field. We need to find a way to get everybody back so we can make a run after this bye week.”
Lee’s dealt with hamstring injuries before during his career, but he couldn’t tell the severity of this one after feeling it pull after the tackle on Thomas. If nothing else, the Week 11 bye will allow for the battered group of defenders to get healthier.
“I don’t want to miss any games,” Lee said. “I want to be out there as much as I can. I try to do everything I can off the field to control it. It’s one of those deals where you have to find a way now to come back. That’s the only positive, that I will be able to come back.”
The Saints had 111 total yards of offense after the first quarter while Lee was still healthy. New Orleans added quickly to that total after Lee went down less than a minute into the second quarter, as the Saints went into the halftime break with 320 total net yards.
Safety Barry Church led all Cowboys with 14 combined tackles, while Bruce Carter was second with 12. Lee had just three combined tackles before he left the game, but Church admits it was somewhat demoralizing for the defense to lose their leader.
“He’s kind of a coach on the field,” Church said. “He kind of knows everything that goes on, knows what the offense is doing, knows what checks we’ve got to make as a whole. That’s just something we’ve got to pick up as a whole defense now with his absence.”
The Cowboys countered after Lee’s injury by moving Durant to middle linebacker and having Carter and Ernie Sims man the outside linebacker spots. When Durant went out, Kyle Bosworth then came onto the field.
The defense has figured out a way to patch together a competitive group in weeks past despite various injuries, particularly along the line. But if Lee is out for an extended period, this loss will be excruciating as the Cowboys attempt to break out of their continuous state of mediocrity.
“We know we need to start stacking wins together and playing more consistently if we want to be a team that’s playing in the playoffs, a team that’s not just going to be 8-8,” Lee said. “It’s extremely frustrating to come and play like we did tonight. If we want to be a better team, we’re going to have to perform better, and we’re going to have to first start by getting healthy defensively.”