Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl LB Sean Lee thankful to be healthy



FRISCO, Tex. — Linebacker Sean Lee is happy to be enjoying his first full and healthy offseason since 2012.

After enjoying the healthiest and most productive season of his career, he is hopeful of building on his 2016 success.

Last year was the first time he was healthy for the entire season, starting 15 of 16 games, only sitting out the meaningless season finale. He led the Cowboys with a career-high 145 tackles and made first-team All-Pro honors for the first time as well as making his second trip to the Pro Bowl.

“I love playing,” Lee said. “I love being out there. But last year was so much fun for me; it was a dream come true to be part of that team. Now my goal is to play better and help the team take the next step.”

Lee missed 37 of a possible 112 games in his first seven seasons and has never played a full 16-game schedule. He credits the game plan the team instituted in the offseason last year of giving him some days off for his success and is on board with continuing the process.

“I think when I was young, I wanted to be part of every drill, win every drill, make every tackle,” Lee said. “Right now there’s a process getting ready for the season. I think I’ve done a better job of listening to the trainers, and following that game plan. And it’s made me a better football player and it’s kept me healthy.

“It’s tough. As a leader, you want to be out there. You want to be able to apply your leadership and you always want to be able to share the sacrifice with your guys. That’s the emotional part that you miss when you’re not out there. But I think there’s the smart part of us taking our time. We’ve had this game plan the last two years and it’s really worked. And we’re making sure that we peak in the season, peak in camp and we’re ready to play a long season.”

This is the first offseason since 2012 that Lee isn’t recovering from some sort of injury or surgery.

In 2013, he was rehabbing a season-ending toe injury. A year later, Lee tore an ACL on the first day of organized team activities. In 2015, he was returning from a knee injury. In 2016, he had offseason arthroscopic surgery.

“It’s nice to be able to go through games healthy,” Lee said. “I think that mentally year after year, it was tough to handle. It was frustrating. I tried to stay positive as much as I could. But when you miss games year after year after year it leans on you. It’ nice to have a couple of years and a having a game plan and be able to peak and get better and better.

“Those doubts will always be there. That is OK. I just care about playing football and helping our team win. The other stuff you can’t control. I’m trying to control what I can control. I’m not trying to read into anything in the past or what could happen in the future. What I can control is to become a better football player and help us win.”

–Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said he is very comfortable and confident in Kellen Moore as the primary backup to Dak Prescott, despite his limited playing experience.

Linehan points to his familiarity with Moore dating back to their days together with Detroit Lions and calls him the ideal backup because of his ability to function without a lot of reps.

“He has been in my room for a lot of years,” Linehan said. “He knows the system. He is one of those guys who can function without a lot of reps. He is a great feel player. That is a great thing for backups. He works so hard mentally.

“He has such a good feel for the game physically. He doesn’t really need to have a huge amount of reps to be comfortable playing the position and executing plays.”

That is perfect a Cowboys team that wants to possibly get Prescott more reps than a normal starter because he is just in his second year. Moore was going to be the primary backup to Tony Romo last year before he broke his leg a week into training camp, opening the door for Prescott’s emergence.

–Owner Jerry Jones has decided who will present him during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in August.

He just isn’t ready to announce it publicly.

“I have decided that. It has been very well-received by everybody that I’m close to, family or otherwise,” Jones said on Monday. “We’ll make a little special time for that (announcement).”

The most likely choice is his son Stephen, the team’s executive vice president in charge of player personnel.

But his daughter Charlotte, the team’s executive vice president/chief brand officer and one of the most visible females in the NFL, is also an option.



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