Dallas Cowboys still have to be extremely careful with Sean Lee
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee might not get the hype nationally in his absence that running back Ezekiel Elliott gets, but just about everybody around the Dallas-Fort Worth area knows how important the All-Pro linebacker is to everything the franchise does.
On Sunday, Lee returns to take on the New York Giants and the Cowboys couldn’t get better news at a more critical time. At 6-6, they’re clinging to playoff hopes with a pair of winnable, yet challenging, road games against the Giants and the Oakland Raiders before Elliott’s return against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 24.
If the Cowboys can get to that stage of the season with an 8-6 record, they’ll have an opportunity to sneak into the playoffs through a backdoor. Right now, of course, the focus has to be on these two road games and getting as much as they can from Lee without overburdening him.
Without him (for most of the Atlanta Falcons game in Week 10 and the last three weeks after that), they gave up an average of 26.5 points per game, so it’s easy to see why they’d be eager to thrust him back into an every-down role. Unfortunately, his latest absence is also the second time he’s dealt with an injury to the same hamstring this year.
Dallas was careful to allow him plenty of rest this time around, but when you consider that the second injury came a full seven weeks (with three full weeks of rest) after the first, they’re not out of hot water yet.
Lee calls their defense, he’s their best open-field tackler and their best coverage linebacker. His instincts put him into position to make play after play at one of the most critical positions in Rod Marinelli’s defense.
Having him back could be the difference between grabbing a couple huge wins these next two weeks or getting clipped by one of these underperforming teams with talent on the road. However, it’s the two games after that the Cowboys have to be conscious of.
Because even with Elliott giving them another boost in Week 15, Sean Lee’s health will be the key to giving them a chance to beat Russell Wilson’s Seahawks and Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles on the road when it matters most.