IRVING, Texas – It appears unlikely the NFL Players Association will penalize the Cowboys in any way after Sean Lee's knee injury during the non-contact Organized Team Activities.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones confirmed Tuesday that Lee tore his ACL, which had long been expected. Teams can be fined for crossing lines during the no-pads, no-contact OTAs, but Jones said the league offered tips rather than punishment.
"Sean was having the injury before there was ever contact, and probably the fact that he was going down before the injury created some contact there and those things are very unfortunate at times," Jones said. "I am sure everybody has their opinion on this. We have heard from the league and they have evaluated a couple of our practice sessions and given us some pointers."
Jones reiterated that it was just an unfortunate event, and he believes head coach Jason Garrett does a good job of playing by the rules. He also said the NFLPA looked at the scenario and saw the Cowboys were doing just that.
"At the same time, I think we all have to take notes and get better, do it better, and hopefully do it to where you don't have anything unfortunate happen," Jones said. "But at the same time, it's a fine line there. You want to get the players ready and you want to get them in competitive shape and if you avoid that, does the same thing happen when we get to training camp? At some point, you do have to put them out there and they got to get with it."
That's a tough line at times, as teams attempt to prepare their players for the rigorous season while keeping them as unharmed as possible. Jones said the players know that their coaches want them as healthy as possible entering the season.
He wouldn't go into depth on the pointers suggested by the NFLPA, other than saying there's a standard that's recommended during OTAs. [embedded_ad]
Given the competitive nature of the players and the fact that everyone wants to win their individual battles every play, the intensity can increase from one play to the next – even with the pads off.
"It's up to coaches and up to them to keep everything in check," Jones said. "I think, obviously, we do that. But every now and then, things might get to that point, but we bring it back down quick. We're all on the same page to keep these guys healthy."
Garrett said he didn't have any direct communication with the NFLPA. He said he can't worry about that and believed the play that occurred was a fair but unfortunate circumstance.
"We want to make these OTA practices productive, and we want to make them where individual players and our teams get better," Garrett said. "We have to try to create that environment, but we also have to understand that they're OTAs. We don't have equipment on, we don't have gear on, and we're constantly coaching the tempo.
"We want to make sure players stay off the ground, we want to make sure there's not a lot of physical contact. You're asking guys to compete, but you have to compete the right way – they have to recognize the environment they're in. Our team is learning more and more how to do that well."