Oh, the odyssey that is our Dallas Cowboys. This time, it is Sean Lee. Lee is once again is on the injured list, but now it is a torn ACL that will do him in for the entire season. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Lee has had to jettison playing time due to some type of injury.
After being drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft with the Cowboys 55th overall pick, Lee was expected to inject youth into an aging linebacker corps that featured veteran inside linebackers Keith Brooking and Bradie James. Lee has filled their voids with All-Pro-type performances. But due various injuries, the Penn State alum has never actually been named to the Pro Bowl.
In his rookie season, Lee did not have any major injuries but just a few nagging ones. It all started with a hamstring injury that kept him out for two weeks. He then injured his shoulder in the last part of the year that he played through. In the mix of that, Lee also had a concussion. Despite all of these injuries, he played fourteen games and earned himself a “Defensive Player of the Week” and “Rookie of the Week” Award during the week of December 5th. During that week, he took in two interceptions from Indianapolis’ quarterback Peyton Manning.
In 2012, he quickly fell from being a player to watch to a player that was placed on injured reserve. Earlier in the season, he was dealt a hip injury, but then he injured his toe that halted his third season. He missed ten games and but he was still able to net 58 tackles. Had he stayed the course, he would have easily surpassed his prior season tackle total and made an estimated 155 tackles. But the season didn’t go his way as he had to sit out.
The 2013 season was a bit kinder, he missed five games with a hamstring injury and then the neck injury in the latter part of the season. He was still able to put up Pro Bowl numbers with 99 tackles, but the injury bug hit him during the course of the season.
The 2014 season hasn’t kicked off yet and Lee will miss the entire season so fourth-round pick Anthony Hitchens, from Iowa State. Hitchens will be evaluated early to see if he can do what Lee was expected to do in 2010, fill a void. A tall order considering Lee’s play, but his injury concerns along with Bruce Carters’ erratic play, make for a rookie’s dream. Dallas is hoping that Kyle Wilber and DeVonte Holloman also step up to aid a defense that finished 32ndin the NFL, a season ago.
With this injury, Lee will have missed 34 games in a 5-year span. The time missed and the average number of tackles he had over the last couple of seasons, which has been roughly 9 per game, equates to a lot of playing time and tackles missed from the Cowboys lineup. The injuries have also prevented him a trip to Hawaii to play in the Pro Bowl, something he has deserved especially the in the 2011 season. We will not see him in the Pro Bowl once again this season, so it will be up the Cowboy brass to come up with a solution on who is going to fill Lee’s spot.