FRISCO, Texas – Sean Lee's on-field role shouldn't change much this season, but his experience matters more than ever.
It's suddenly a much younger Cowboys roster without Orlando Scandrick (released), Dez Bryant (released) and Jason Witten (retired). Lee is now the longest-tenured player on defense and second on the entire team behind only long snapper L.P. Ladouceur.
Due in part to Lee's age and injury history, the Cowboys will monitor the 31-year-old's offseason work to help ensure he's building toward training camp and the regular season. Even though he didn't participate in the first week of organized team activities, Lee's fully in tune with the voluntary program as he preps for his ninth NFL season.
Here's what Lee had to say this past week on a number of Cowboys-related matters:
On the plan for his offseason work and staying healthy after missing five games last season with hamstring injuries:
"I think more just how I was injured. I did it in (making) a cut, centrically, so we're making sure the strength in the hamstring is there, and with building that strength, making sure I have enough flexibility to take on certain issues on the field. Lot of different forms of stretching, depending on what we want to, a lot of different forms of massage. Just making sure the muscles are all working together. … I think the plan is to progress and do more (in offseason practice) as we go on. Usually we kind of build into it, and then minicamp we go, and then training camp we're full go."
On new defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard's impact on the defense already:
"He's just an incredible coach on many levels. First thing is his personality, the intensity that he brings, the character that he brings. He's a guy that's infectious. You walk in a room and you hear him teach, you hear him speak, you're sitting there trying to soak everything in. And when he's talking about football, the knowledge that he has, the X's and O's, the details that he preaches, it's amazing how much he's given us."
On the Cowboys drafting rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in the first round:
"I was excited. I was able to watch a little film of him and just see the type of player he was, how well he moved, how (at) 6-5, 250 to move like that is very rare. And then kind of hearing about him, reading about him, the type of person he is, that's the type of guy you want to take. That's a guy who can play a long time for you, be a leader for you."
On his message to Vander Esch getting started as an NFL linebacker:
"He has the traits and the sense of urgency and the work ethic to get better. I just think it's coming in with that and be yourself. Keep working hard, understand that it's a process to get better. But it's amazing for how young he is, the sense of the urgency he has and how great he wants to be, how he's picked things up really, really quick. He works the right way. I think it's a matter of time for him."