The sound you heard from Dallas was the collective groan from Cowboys fans acknowledging the season ending loss of star middle linebacker Sean Lee on the first day of OTA’s. While losing the best player on a Dallas Cowboys’ defense that was historically bad last year may signal another long year, it may not be as bad as it originally appears. There is nothing wrong with Sean Lee as evidenced by the All-Pro numbers he puts up when he plays but the problem is those times are getting less and less frequent.
Back in 2012 when he went out after six games the air was taken out of the balloon for many fans. Even last year there was some shock and anger after he went down but the warning signs were there. This is the third straight year he will miss significant time and coupled his college days at Penn State when he missed his senior year it is fair to say that he is officially injury prone. Last year may have caught the team off guard but with the injury happening before the season even starts it gives the front office and coaching staff ample time to find a replacement.
That replacement search starts in house with a young linebacker group now led by Bruce Carter. Some combination of Devonte Holloman, Kyle Wilber, Justin Durant and rookie Anthony Hitchens will get the first shot at replacing Lee. This would certainly be a tall order for a team deep in linebackers but for a team that was thin at the position to begin with this makes the task even more daunting. Sometimes trial by fire is the best way to go in the NFL and with a full off-season and training camp someone just may emerge as the successor to Lee and become the spark this defense desperately needs.
It is never a good thing to lose your best defensive player but if it has to happen the first day of OTAs is as good a time as any. You don’t miss what you don’t have and with Lee’s appearances on the field becoming less and less frequent it may be time to consider a future without him.
Michael Spadaccino is an NFL writer for TPF and can be contacted at MSpadaccino@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com