IRVING, Texas– Sean Lee has earned his first career Pro Bowl selection, as he was added to the roster as an injury replacement for Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston.
Houston, a four-time Pro Bowl selection for the Chiefs, was severely limited by a knee injury he suffered at the tail end of the regular season. He missed the last five games of the regular season, and he played in just eight snaps in Kansas City's playoff loss to New England last weekend.
It's not surprising that Lee would be one of the first names on deck, given the season he had for the Cowboys. After missing the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL, Lee appeared in 14 games this year, amassing 155 tackles from his new position at weak side linebacker.
The addition gives Dallas five members of the Pro Bowl roster. Kicker Dan Bailey, as well as offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin were named to the initial roster in December.
Injury concerns have been a big concern for the 2010 second-round draft pick throughout his career, but the 2015 campaign was one of his healthiest to date. He suffered two concussions during the course of the season – one of which forced him to sit out of the Nov. 15 loss to Tampa Bay.
Famously, Lee also sat out of the season finale against Washington, as he determined a hamstring injury would not allow him to play effectively. The decision cost him roughly $2 million in contract incentives, though Lee said after the game he didn't want to disservice his team by playing at less than 100 percent.
The move to the weak side seemed to undeniably improve Lee's durability during the course of the season. He did miss those two games, but 14 appearances were his most since making 15 appearances in 2011. From 2012-14 he played in a grand total of 17 games, as he was limited by various soft tissue injuries.
Alongside Rolando McClain, Lee anchored the Cowboys' linebacker corps for most of 2015. He tallied double-digit tackles in seven of 14 games, including dominant efforts at Philadelphia, Washington and Buffalo.
He was particularly impressive in that Week 2 trip to play the Eagles, as he tallied 14 tackles, three tackles for loss, two pass deflections and an amazing end zone interception of Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford.
Lee will take Houston's place on the roster, though the two are far from compatible in terms of scheme. Houston plays typically as a pass rusher in Kansas City's 3-4 scheme, where he has proven to be one of the league's most adept sack artists. He led the league in sacks with 22 last year, and he posted 7.5 in just 11 games in 2015.
This past season was just Lee's second professional campaign in a 4-3 defense, where he has now officially proven himself at a Pro Bowl caliber.