IRVING, Texas – It feels like a forgotten footnote in an otherwise disappointing season, but Sean Lee is about to do something he hasn't done since 2011.
By making it through Sunday's game against Buffalo – and with 15 tackles and a half-sack, no less – fully healthy, Lee is in position to play the Cowboys' season finale for the first time in four years.
"I feel good, I feel like I've gotten better as the year has gone on," Lee said Sunday. "I was practicing this Wednesday and felt like I could practice all day and play all day."
That's not to say it's been a fully healthy season for the weak side linebacker. Lee suffered a concussion that knocked him out for most of the Oct. 4 loss to New Orleans, and a month later another concussion forced him to miss the second half of the Nov. 8 loss to Philadelphia – and the ensuing trip to Tampa Bay.
Still, it's been quite a comeback for Lee, who missed the entirety of 2014 with a torn ACL. The sixth-year veteran has appeared in 14 games, which is the second-highest total of his career. Assuming he plays against Washington on Sunday, he can tie his career-high of 15 appearances in a season.
"I've worked very hard off the field on trying to keep my body out there," Lee said. "At the same point, it's a physical game and I haven't gone too overboard on worrying about injuries. You go out there, you play, you leave it out there."
He has certainly done that in 2015. With a full season to work with, Lee has shown why the Cowboys gave him a six-year contract extension back in 2013. He's currently ranked No. 5 in the NFL in tackles with 128 on the year, not to mention a pair of sacks and an interception.
It's been a career year, but that's got plenty to do with the injuries that have limited him in recent seasons. Lee has a chance to finish this season with 15 total appearances on the year, whereas he played in just 17 games combined between 2012-14.
That's a step in the right direction for Lee, but he said Sunday he needs to be able to maintain that for more than just one season.
"It's a positive, but it's got to be year in and year out," he said. "I have to string years together of staying healthy and being able to play."
It's not lost on Lee that his own accomplishments coincide with a disheartening season for the Cowboys. With that in mind, his objectives for 2016 seemed pretty clear.
"Hopefully I can continue to stay healthy, take this into next year – and hopefully this time of year we'll have something to play for," he said.