Since the Cowboys drafted Sean Lee in the second round of 2010, everyone has compared the young linebacker to veteran Keith Brooking, so it is natural that Lee has overtaken Brooking for a starting job.
Lee was on the field alongside Bradie James on Sunday night, and played just about every defensive snap, while James and Brooking rotated. Last year, with Lee banged up near the start of the season, the Cowboys thought the two veteran wore down having to play too many snaps.
"I'm not blind to the fact of what's taking place," Brooking said. "It's been a long time in my career now that I've been out there for significant - every play of every game. So I'm realistic. I've said it all along, I'm realistic about my position right now, my role on this team. I know that I don't need to be out there on the field on every play. But obviously I would love more snaps. I would be lying to you if I told you I didn't. I want those, but I accept it either way."
Including an outstanding performance by Lee, the inside linebackers had a very good game overall, helping limit the Jets to just 45 rushing yards.
"Regardless of who's out there, like I said, I feel like it's a luxury that we have the three inside linebackers that we have now. That rotation, regardless of who's out there, we feel pretty dang good about what's going to take place."
Brooking, 35, and James, 30, are each in the last year of their contract. Just as in 2010, the Cowboys drafted an inside linebacker in the second round this April, Bruce Carter, who is on the Non-Football Injury list while rehabbing from knee surgery.
Though Brooking's days are probably numbered, he says he can still play well. The decision to scale back his snaps may help.
"You guys can write all you want about how old I am," Brooking said. "It doesn't matter to me. Put on the film and watch it. I know I can still contribute to the team and play, and if it's 20 snaps a game, hey, it's 20 snaps a game. Throw me in on some special teams and I'll be good to go.
"I don't feel like I played a game right now. I feel great. I'm not sore at all."