ARLINGTON, Texas – A community event held during the second day of Organized Team Activities isn’t the typical setting to address seismic changes in the Cowboys’ upcoming season.
But there they were, roughly a dozen Cowboys veterans at Globe Life Park in Arlington for a charity home run derby, just hours after their first OTA practice since
“I was right behind him when it happened. And that's one of my best friends on the team. Feels kind of awful,” said
The recovery time for an ACL tear is somewhere in the range of eight to 12 months, leading to the widely-accepted speculation that Lee’s season is done before it even started. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett declined to speak definitively on the subject, however, saying the team is still evaluating its top linebacker.
“Sean is still under evaluation today, and we’ll continue that before we make any definitive conclusions on what his status is,” Garrett said.
Regardless of that status, the NFL and OTAs roll on – “next man up,” as has become a popular phrase around Valley Ranch. At Wednesday’s practice, rookie linebacker
“I’ve still got to get my alignments down and just play fast and just try to learn as quick as I can,” Hitchens said. “They’re not here to hold my hand and walk me through this stuff, so I’ve got to take a lot of time on my own to learn this playbook.”
Of course, it might not all fall on the rookie considering the Cowboys’ crowded depth chart at the position. Some have speculated about the possibility of addressing Lee’s loss in free agency, which is something Garrett didn’t rule out. He did add, though, that he likes the potential already on the roster – including young players and veterans.
“We always want to be able to look at the entire landscape of who’s available to us,” he said. “But we felt like we’ve added some resources to our team at that position – we want to give guys a chance and see what they can do.”
Pressed for specifics aside from Hitchens,who was drafted as a potential backup for Lee, Garrett noted two of his backup middle linebackers from 2013 – both of whom were pressed into service by injuries to the squad.
Regardless of who it is, it’s evident Lee will be a part of their preparation for the role from the get-go. Hours after hearing some depressing news, Church said Lee was in the linebackers’ meeting room helping Hitchens and other youngsters get up to speed.
“It means a lot. He’s bought into this program and he wants to win – if he’s on the field or if he’s not,”
Hitchens said. “It means a lot to me, being a younger guy, that he’s helping me out already.”
Having seen Lee fight through other injury issues in the past, Garrett said he wouldn’t expect anything less.
“He’s been hurt in the past during the season, when he’s been on IR, and we have meetings that start at 7:30 in the morning and he’s there,” Garrett said. “He’s there helping guys out when he’s inactive and he can’t play for the rest of the season. That’s the approach he’s always taken.”