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Head, Shoulders, Knees, And Toes: Injuries Make Sean Lee Untrustworthy?

Brian Martin

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Has Sean Lee Become A Liability For Cowboys?

As an adolescent you were probably taught or at least heard the nursery rhyme/kids song "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes". It was meant to teach us not only parts of the human anatomy, but was probably taught as an exercise as well. But, for Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, it could be used a roadmap of injuries he has sustained in his career.

Injuries of course are a part of the NFL or just about any other professional sport. But, it has been a big part of Sean Lee's career dating all the way back to his collegiate days at Penn State. Unfortunately, despite his immense talent, he has become extremely untrustworthy for the Dallas Cowboys.

You see, the defense for the Dallas Cowboys is pretty much built around Sean Lee. No one will argue that they are better when he is in the lineup, but are a dramatically different team when he's not on the field. He is that talented and makes that much of a difference. It's truly amazing how much the Cowboys depend on just one player.

Now, I could throw out all kinds of statistics of how the Cowboys defense plays when Sean Lee is in the lineup and when he's not. But, it's something that we already know, so why bother. Instead, I want to focus on his injuries and what the Dallas Cowboys can possibly do to keep him healthy.

LB Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

We all know that at some point Sean Lee is going to miss some time due to an injury. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think he's played an entire season in his NFL career. He has sustained multiple concussions, an ACL tear, a neck injury where there was ligament damage, plantar fascia tear in his foot, a fractured wrist, and a smorgasbord of hamstring injuries. Yet, we don't really hear the injury prone label attached to him.

It's way past time that the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff and their strength and conditioning program get together and figure out some way to keep Sean Lee on the field. If they're going to depend on him as much as they do to make their defense better, something needs to change and fast.

The Cowboys organization needs to cut back on Sean Lee's workload in practice. He has the heart of a Gladiator and wants to be out on the field as much as possible, but he doesn't really need the practice repetitions. He is arguably the most mentally prepared player day in and day out in the NFL. Practice repetitions don't mean squat to a vet player like him unless he isn't in shape.

LB Sean Lee

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Unfortunately, #50's body can't hold up to the workload. His heart is definitely in it, but the body just can't hold up the way he would like. We have seen it time after time. Sean Lee is going to sustain some kind of soft tissue injury. Resting him as much as possible in the off-season and in between games each week is really the only solution.

Who knows? It may be too late in Sean Lee's career to change things. But, that doesn't mean the Dallas Cowboys don't need to do everything in their power to keep him on the field. They don't have his replacement currently on the roster, probably making it a top priority the 2018 NFL Draft.

One thing is for sure though. The sad truth is, Sean Lee is simply untrustworthy to be relied upon like the Dallas Cowboys do. It's time some serious changes are made one way or another.

Do you think Sean Lee is untrustworthy?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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8 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    How long are we going to base our defenses success on Sean Lee’s health???Every team deals with injuries but one injury to this defense and EVERYBODY looks lost. This isnt the case for other defenses, only the cowboys. The Panthers & Kuechly, Texans & Watt, and etc. These other defenses keep it moving, but not the boys. They lose Sean Lee and NOBODY seems to step up, its sad to watch

    • Brian Martin

      I think it’s a depth issue to be honest. I think Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens are really the only two starting caliber LBs on the roster right now. Unfortunately, it’s like that at several positions.

  • http://dvqp.ru BeirutWedding

    I disagree that Sean Lee isn’t regarded as injury prone. I think everybody thinks that and has thought that. Last year, he was held out of the last game to prevent injury. The problem is, as said above, why — years later — is the defense so wholly dependent on him? I heard Broaddus tell a caller why were they calling him injury-prone when he played all of last year. For myself, I can say I was worried BECAUSE he was healthy all last year. There’s no way he was going to make it through another season injury free. So then, your defense is depending on the health of Sean Lee…and Jaylon Smith. What kind of sense does that make? And frankly, not just there? Why fired the line fall apart when Smith’s not there? Why can’t they run without Zeke? It starts to come down to coaching.

    • Brian Martin

      I guess what I meant by Sean Lee not being regarded as injury from is he doesn’t receive the same kind of flack like Tony Romo for instance. But, it is what it is.

      Coaching is definitely a problem, but the Cowboys have also failed to have the proper depth at nearly every position to survive injuries. Take Tyron Smith’s injury for instance. The Eagles lost their starting LT and are still surviving with a backup. The Cowboys on the other hand were depending on an injury prone Chaz Green as a fill-in. He’s filled in before and done an adequate job, but his play last week against the Falcons was pathetic.

      • http://dvqp.ru BeirutWedding

        Hm, for me, that’s what I mean. The lack of depth is a coaching problem. Either the next level guys aren’t being coached up properly or the guy’s their bringing in or keeping aren’t the right guys to keep. But I feel like it sounds like we’re arguing when we’re actually agreeing.

        • Brian Martin

          Agreed LOL

  • Hobbes49

    Anthony Hitchens claims he is ready to take the next step now that Lee is out again. Hopefully he can do it. I agree with Travis, how can this defense go from potentially devastating to totally incompetent because of one man down. It’s an embarrassment to be honest. I feel bad for Jaylon Smith, cause he is trying, but he is clearly a year or two away from being at his best. The injuries to Lee are frequent and it’s going to get worse as he gets older. It is time to at lease start considering who his eventual replacement will be. If Hitchens really flashes in the next few games, the Cowboys should consider splitting time between the two in the future to get this team ready to say good bye to Lee. It pains me to say it, because he is an awesome player, but the reality is he is not really reliable due to his injury history. Sad, but true.

    • Brian Martin

      Anthony Hitchens has played really well and I’m hoping he’s able to step up his game. Smith just isn’t trusting what he sees. Physically I think he’s capable, but I’ve seen him out of position a lot. I think he will be fine in time though. And I think the Cowboys absolutely have to try to re-sign Hitchens. I don’t think Sean Lee is going anywhere anytime soon, but they definitely need to upgrade the LB position.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.

Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable

The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.

Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.

Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.

Washington Redskins

  • WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
  • S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
  • RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
  • RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
  • G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
  • CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
  • CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable

It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.

Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.

Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.



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