The most important part of each season may be the daily practice grind in July and August when a team is truly built. As a countdown to this year's training camp, we celebrate the 53rd year of Cowboys football by constructing the team's all-time 53-man roster, picking one player from each season.
Not so much the 53 best players in club history, DallasCowboys.com has constructed the ultimate team, filling out the depth chart and making room for contributors at every position, including special teams, while at the same time looking ahead to how this year's 53-man roster might shake out.
The series continues today with 2010 and Sean Lee, a reserve inside linebacker for The Ultimate 53.
Name: Sean Lee
Position: Inside Linebacker
College: Penn State
Cowboys Tenure: 2010-present
Why Him? The Cowboys saw great value in their second-round pick of Sean Lee in 2010, and while he played only sparingly on defense as a rookie, he did manage to stand out when in the game, including a two-interception performance against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in an overtime Week 13 win. He outperformed veterans Bradie James and Keith Brooking during training camp of 2011, cementing himself as a starter, and was one of the Cowboys' best players in a breakout season, when he registered 131 tackles, including eight for a loss, with eight pass breakups and four interceptions. A dedicated worker, he's already taken on a leadership-by-example role, and promises to be more vocal with teammates beginning in 2012.
The Role: While Lee has shown enough promise to think he might one day be counted among the very best at the position in club history, his youth makes him a reserve linebacker on this team. In real life, of course, he's an every down player, but each 53-man roster needs up-and-comers who will put in long hours of film study, and Lee is a perfect example for new players trying to transition from the college game.
Back To The Future:This year's seventh-round pick, Caleb McSurdydoesn't come with the same pedigree that Lee boasted out of "Linebacker U," but he impressed scouts with some of the exact same traits while at Montana. A physical player with a nose for the ball, he recorded 130 tackles and 4.0 sacks as a senior. While he may be behind several veterans on the current roster, the Cowboys will have a spot for him in 2012 if he can shine on special teams.