FRISCO, Texas – Linebacker Sean Lee's sole focus is preparing for the Washington Redskins with a chance to clinch the NFC East if the Cowboys (7-8) win Sunday and get help from the New York Giants against first-place Philadelphia.
But the 33-year-old Lee is encouraged about his ability to continue playing football beyond this season if he chooses to do so.
"There's no question there's more confidence at the end of this year than there was last year about being consistent, being able to stay on the field and being able to have a role and to help," Lee said Friday. "That's what hurt me the most was not being able to fulfill the role, particularly last year."
However, Lee doesn't expect to make a final decision about next season until closer to March, before the voluntary offseason workouts begin.
Plagued by hamstring injuries in 2018, Lee contemplated his football future last offseason before deciding to return for the final year of his current contract. He has appeared in all 15 games this year with 12 starts, including the last five games at weak-side linebacker for an injured Leighton Vander Esch (neck). Lee ranks second on defense with 103 tackles.
He credits the Cowboys' athletic training staff for helping him develop a plan for staying on the field and remaining effective in Year 10.
"I think they've managed me really well off the field, on the field during games," he said. "…The game plan we started in the offseason, we stuck to it and it's been great.
"Being 10 years in, I think it's natural for all players, especially at 10 years to say, OK, where am I at physically, what's the right thing to do for me, my family. And so I'll do that in the offseason for sure. But that's going to come whenever that comes. I'm happy that I was able to be consistently on the field and in a lot of situations being able to help and be effective. So that was a plus for me. And that will be part of the evaluation, obviously."
But right now, the only date that matters for Lee is this Sunday – the Cowboys' last chance to extend their season into January.