OXNARD, Calif. – For the majority of the players on this roster, the Cowboys try to give them as many reps as they can get.
So far here in the first week of camp, it's apparent the Cowboys are looking to give Sean Lee as many reps as he needs.
Obviously, his experience in the league and his injury history are playing a role in the Cowboys' plan to hold him out from some of the first padded practices.
While Lee's starting point might be different than the rest, the veteran linebacker says he will gradually increase his reps moving forward.
"I'm going to continue, as we move into camp, I'll practice more and more," Lee said, acknowledging the athletic trainers for coming up with a schedule for his workload. "They have a great plan for long-term to get me ready for the season. This is kind of the stuff we've used the last couple of years."
Lee's injury history has been well documented, as he has yet to play a full 16-game schedule in his eight pro seasons. Four of those years have seen Lee miss at least five games, including last season when he only played 11 games.
"Last year, I had a hamstring in camp and it kind of plagued me throughout the year," Lee said. "That doesn't mean that always happens. They're just trying – they've worked really hard. We've had a great offseason. Now when we get into camp and let's just work aggressively every day to make sure we're improving weekly. They have an unbelievable plan for that."
In the meantime, Lee sitting out will inevitably open the door for others. Head coach Jason Garrett repeatedly preaches the "next man up" mantra, so with Lee sitting out, the player filling in so far has been Joe Thomas, a free-agent acquisition in the offseason. Thomas spent some time on the Cowboys practice squad in 2015 before returning to Green Bay, where he played three years as a role player on defense and special teams standout.
Obviously, the Cowboys are hopeful this plan with Lee will keep Thomas in a similar role here in Dallas.