OXNARD, Calif. – The notion this Cowboys defense will be much improved simply with the return of Sean Lee this year makes sense.
Lee has been one of the best players on this defense when healthy and if he can return from last year's ACL injury, it should be the needed jolt that sends this unit from mediocre last season to a potential Top 10 defense.
If Sunday's Blue-White Scrimmage is any indication, those sentiments might ring true this year.
Head coach Jason Garrett said the defense was 'dominated' in the goal-line drill on Saturday but clearly responded with a much-improved effort on Sunday.
The difference? Well, that would be the insertion of Lee, who was visibly upset on Saturday with being held out of action as a precautionary measure. The coaching staff didn't do that Sunday and Lee responded by making a few tackles in the red-zone period.
"I thought the whole red-zone drive today was better than yesterday," Lee said following the control scrimmage on Sunday. "We came out and competed, but we have a lot of room to improve. We have to compete with that intensity every single day."
The intensity was a one-way street on Saturday as Lee could only sit and watch offensive players such as Jason Witten trash talk the defense.
"You want to be with your guys, especially with a live goal-line drill," Lee said. "That's really when you get to define your defense. It's a toughness drill. It wasn't fun not being in it. I think today, we responded a little bit better. We have a lot of ways left to go."[embeddedad0]
The Cowboys have been cautious with Lee in his return from the torn ACL injury from May 2014 that kept him on IR for the entire season.
While the veteran linebacker, who has missed 34 out of a potential 80 games played in his career, understands the process, he's ready for an increased role.
"I need more tastes of contact," Lee said. "I obviously have to continue to improve. It was nice to get out and compete. I felt great today and I expect to feel great moving forward."