For a young middle linebacker in the NFL, there might not be a more significant stamp of approval than one that comes from the 13-time Pro Bowler, Lewis. Since his rookie season in 1996, Lewis has dominated the league year in and year out. While he spends most of his time scouting opposing offenses, Lewis did admit that Lee has caught his eye.
“The things I have seen about him is that he just runs around,” Lewis said. ”You see this one energizer bunny that’s on that defense … he’s definitely one of those high motor guys and always around the football. Anytime you have a high motor you’re always going to look for somebody that’s always around the ball.”
The Cowboys are relying on Lee to be the strength of their defense at the middle linebacker position for years to come. Lee’s tendency to “be around the football,” as Lewis described it, was apparent last season, Lee’s second in the league, when he broke out with 131 tackles.
Lee’s total for tackles last year was actually even more than Lewis recorded. However, Lewis was in his 16th season and still managed to rack up 95 takedowns. In Lewis’ second year in the NFL, back in 1997, he was actually much more productive than Lee’s breakout campaign last season as Lewis recorded 210 tackles to improve upon the 142 he recorded as a rookie.
Still, Lee has done enough in his short time in the NFL to garner the admiration of perhaps the league’s most respected veteran.
“I really, really appreciate the way he plays the game,” Lewis said.
Lee has also surprised a lot of people and stepped up as one of the leaders of this Cowboy team. He has been known to bring up the intensity of otherwise routine practices, trying to lead his team by example.
Lewis has been the unquestionable leader of the Ravens for at least 15 years, but head coach Jason Garrett warned the media to tap the breaks when trying to expect any member of the Cowboys to provide the intangibles that Lewis does.
“I think it’s unfair to compare anybody to Ray Lewis,” Garrett said. “This is a great player, first ballot Hall of Famer, as good as it gets.”