IRVING, Texas – Sean Lee had about as productive a game last Sunday as a linebacker can play: 14 tackles, an interception, two pass breakups, and seemingly everywhere on the field at once.
It is Lee's first season as the weak-side starter in Rod Marinelli's defense – typically a high-production position that allows the "Will" linebacker to run and make tackles while taking on fewer blocks.
"I've enjoyed it," Lee said. "I think it's a great position to play within this defense. I think there's aspects of it that I've played before that I really love playing, but it's definitely helped me. A lot of times being free to the football as a linebacker is always nice."
Head coach Jason Garrett said Lee graded out "ridiculously high" against the Eagles, shattering the team's single-game production-points record by at least 20 points.
Lee credited the defensive linemen with giving him room to make plays.
"Some days you have high scores, some days you don't," he said. "But for me, making sure I maximize that week in and week out is really what I'm looking to do."
Collins Expected To Start(UPDATED: 6:55 p.m.)
Left guard Ronald Leary's game status is uncertain for the second straight week due to a groin strain, and Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan late Friday afternoon that rookie La'el Collins would make his first career start Sunday against the Falcons.
"I just want to go out there and be where my team needs me to be and do my job," Collins said Friday when asked about his role if called upon to play.
Having practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, Leary is officially listed as questionable for Sunday.
Mackenzy Bernadeau started at left guard in Leary's place last Sunday against the Eagles, but the Cowboys intended to give Collins his first regular-season work as well. The two wound up with a near-even split in playing time.
"Just to have that rotation was pretty cool," Collins said, "just to be able to get out there and get a feel for it."
Mo & Julio Down by the Schoolyard
Morris Claiborne and Julio Jones have crossed paths before, but probably not in the setting you'd guess. The two players were both all-world talents during their days at LSU and Alabama, but they never actually played each other until they reached the NFL.
"I got a chance to cover him my rookie year, when we went to Atlanta to play," Claiborne said.
Jones had a nice day in that 2012 meeting, reeling in five catches for 129 yards in a 19-13 Falcons win at the Georgia Dome. Not surprisingly, he's off to an amazing start in 2015, with 22 catches for 276 yards and two touchdowns in just two games.
"He's a unique player all around the board," Claiborne said. "There's not too many things you can pick out on film that he's lacking at, you know, so it's going to be a good challenge for us. But I'm pretty sure and positive from this week of practice that we're ready to step up and take on the challenge."
The entire Dallas secondary has enjoyed a strong start to the season, as well, but it's hard not to single out Claiborne – considering it was around this time last year that he was lost for the year with a torn patellar tendon. The former first-round pick hasn't had any setbacks since he began practicing during training camp, and his confidence is showing up on the field.
"It's the best I've felt in a long time," he said. "I'm just trying to stay on my treatment, continue doing the things I'm doing after practice to get my legs ready to go for the next day."
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