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Roster Rundown: Lee's 2013 Season Marred By Injuries Again

Posted Feb 24, 2014


Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players’ impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features linebacker Sean Lee.)

Name: Sean Lee
Position: Linebacker
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 234
Experience: 4 seasons
College: Penn State

Key stat: Lee had his best and worst game against the Chargers in Week 4 in San Diego. He tied a franchise-record of 21 tackles, including a career-high 16 solo stops. His 52-yard interception return resulted in his first touchdown of his career. But he also had trouble covering Antonio Gates, who caught all 10 passes thrown his way, including the 58-yard back-breaking touchdown in the fourth quarter .

Contract Status: Signed through 2019.

2013 Impact: For Sean Lee, the season began with the daily training camp battles with DeMarco Murray and the hope that those days would lead to a promising finish working in a new scheme under Monte Kiffin. For Lee, it was an up and down season as it was for the majority of the Cowboys defensive players in working for Kiffin. There was some early success against Kansas City, St. Louis and Philadelphia but there were also games where the defense struggled playing even the simplest of coverage. I remember catching Lee in the film room one afternoon while he was looking for answers to why the defense was having their issues. In typical Sean Lee fashion, he was blaming himself for not making enough plays to help get his defense off the field. He was disappointed that he had not picked up the scheme fast enough and he was looking for ways to make more of an impact, When the switch was made from the 3-4 under Ryan to Kiffin, I was one of those that believed that Lee was the perfect fit to play as a MIKE linebacker in this scheme. With his ability to avoid blocks, make plays on the move and play in coverage, it was going to be an easy transition for him but to be honest, that wasn't the case at all and he would be the first to tell you that. Whether Lee was trying to make up for some of the problems at linebacker, it just didn't always click like I thought it would. You could tell in watching him in these games that he wasn't totally comfortable and it showed in his play. For Lee, his season once again ended in injury. This is becoming all too common for him and that is a shame. I have never questioned his ability as a player or his passion for the game but his injury history has to be a concern more so than his ability to master this scheme, which I believe he will be able to do.

Where He Fits: Until further notice, Sean Lee will continue to be your defensive leader and starter at MIKE linebacker. Where things might change for him is with the injury history, does the team try and play him at another linebacker spot to save the wear and tear on his body? Could they like another MIKE in this draft and move Lee to the weak side and let him run to the ball and make plays that way? CJ Mosely of Alabama might be too good of a value to pass up at 16 which could allow Lee to make that move. If Lee does come back healthy and remains at his spot, I do expect him to be much more comfortable at the position and this will be a huge positive for this defense.  

Writers' Analysis:

Nick Eatman: No matter who you ask, whether it’s a fan, a coach, a front-office guy, a scout, a media member or anyone else that knows Sean Lee and you get the same answer. It usually involves a head-shake with something about “if he can just stay healthy.” Everyone loves the guy. Everyone knows he’s a great player and everyone seemingly pulls for him. But the fact he keeps getting injured is without a doubt, a problem. It’s hard to count on someone who isn’t out there every play. Maybe the Cowboys are going to find out he’s better suited on the outside but before they do that, I wouldn’t  mind seeing them draft a big’ ol plugging defensive tackle to eat up space. That’s what every linebacker needs and Lee really hasn’t had that. Even in the 3-4 they used undersized tackles. If they want to help Lee stay healthy, shore up the defensive line, particularly in the middle.

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