Life without Sean Lee: What’s next?

Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee was placed on the season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday, which leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the defense. Lee, who is considered one of the bright spots of the Cowboys defense, will undergo surgery on his right big toe to repair torn ligaments and is expected to make a full recovery for 2013.

It will be tough to replace the team’s leading tackler, but the Cowboys have already made moves to fill the void.

Dan Connor stepped in during Lee’s absence in Sunday’s 19-14 win against the Carolina Panthers. Although he played well in relief, he had to make adjustments as he hasn’t played weakside linebacker since his time at Penn State.

“He looked comfortable out there,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said via Fort Worth Star Telegram. “He made a heck of a play on a third-down stop … and knocked the ball away on a slant in the red zone.”

Connor played his first four seasons in the NFL with the Panthers, but the Cowboys signed him in free agency in March.

The team made a corresponding move, signing former first-round linebacker Ernie Sims, DallasCowboys.com reports.