IRVING, Texas– It was this time one year ago when Sean Lee went down with a season-ending knee injury, giving the Cowboys a gut-wrenching start to the OTA practices.
Fast forward 12 months and Lee isn't exactly 100 percent cleared for all of the practices, but it appears he's certainly getting close. He is going through individual drills but hasn't participated in a lot of 11-on-11 team drills.
Lee didn't speak to reporters on Wednesday, the only media-availability day of OTAs this week, but his coaches and teammates had plenty of positive things to say about the linebacker's return to the field.
"He's doing really good. He's working in the individual," linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said. "We're trying to pace him and get him more reps every day. It's (up to) the trainers and all the guys that are watching him. We're just trying to move him forward every day through these OTAs."
More than just getting him back on the field, Lee is also changing positions, moving from the middle linebacker spot to weak-side, a position that could keep him out of less traffic during the play, allowing him to run more to the football.
When asked what will help Lee the most in making that transition, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said it's more mental than physical traits.
"I think instincts. That position's built on instincts," Marinelli said. "You've got to have movement, speed and all those things. But it's awareness and I think he's really got good instincts to play. He's covered up so there's always somebody in front of him. Now I think he can really use his speed."
While Lee missed the entire 2014 season on the field, the veteran did his best to attend as many of the meetings and games as possible.
"Class, class. He stayed in meetings. He just did everything he could to try to help us win," Marinelli said. "That's who he is, that's what he's about, so it's special seeing him out here with us."
Lee even has the respect of players yet to line up next to him. Rookie defensive end Randy Gregory said he's excited to not only play with Lee, but pick his brain in the locker room.
"He knows what he's talking about, that's for sure," said Gregory, who has the same agency firm as Lee. "His locker's right next to mine practically, so we do a lot of talking. He's a great leader for us."