IRVING, Texas — Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee has been placed on injured reserve, officially ending his season, coach Jason Garrett announced on Wednesday.
Lee suffered ligament damage in his right big toe during the third quarter of Sunday’s 19-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers. After further evaluation, it was determined that he needs surgery.
Lee leads the team with 58 tackles this season.
“I can’t tell you how well he has been playing, since he’s been our starting inside linebacker,” Garrett said. “He’s the leader of our defense. He makes the calls. He plays the right way in practice. He plays the right way in the games. He defends the run. He defends the pass. He’s a bell cow for us, and a guy that really, really everybody on our defense and our football team looks up to. He goes about it the right way and he’s an outstanding person as well.
“We love everything about him. It’s obviously unfortunate and disappointing that he had the injury. Initially, after the ball game, we thought it might be a 4-6 (weeks) type injury, but after getting the MRI and getting the evaluation from the doctors, it was determined that we need to have surgery on that and get that done in the next week or so.”
Garrett said he talked to Lee on Tuesday and the 26-year-old “will stay engaged” and “will have a positive impact on our team.”
“I’m not getting down, I’m ready to go,” Lee told Garrett. “I’m going to be a part of this football team. We’re going to get this thing fixed. I’ll be back before you know it.”
Inside linebackers Bruce Carter and Dan Connor will each take on more responsibility. Carter will make the defensive calls on the field and Connor will step into a starting spot.
“He’ll be a big part of what we’re doing,” Garrett said of Connor. “Bruce Carter, obviously, will be in there. Bruce is getting better and better every week. Those guys have got to step up and get it done. And some of the other guys who have been backup players for us have to get ready to play more on defense.”