Dallas Cowboys: Sean Lee's personal milestone has been overlooked

BY Fansided and Steven Mullenax/FanSided via The Landry Hat • December 16, 2016

Despite the fact linebacker Sean Lee is likely the 11-2 Dallas Cowboys defensive MVP, this personal milestone for the veteran defender is being overlooked.

The Dallas Cowboys are known for taking risks with their second round selections in the NFL Draft as of late. Earlier this year, the Cowboys drafted a top-five level talent in Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith. That’s despite Smith suffering nerve damage during a devastating knee injury he suffered in January. After sitting out this season entirely, it’s unsure if he’ll ever play a down of football again.

In 2015, the Cowboys drafted another top talent in Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory. Dallas made that pick despite Gregory’s issues including a failed drug test at the NFL’s Scouting Combine earlier that year. Several more failed tests later and the future of the second-year defensive end is cloudy.

So why does the Cowboys’ front office feel comfortable taking these types of chances in the second round of the draft? It’s likely because it’s paid off for them before. And there is no better example of that than the current play of starting weakside linebacker Sean Lee.

Lee was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft despite suffering major knee injuries in college. And as those injuries carried into his professional career, many believe Lee could ultimately turn out to be a draft bust. In a three-year span, the Dallas linebacker missed a whopping 31 games due to injury. That includes missing the entire 2014 regular season due to an ACL tear.

Fortunately for both Lee and the Cowboys, the now 30-year old linebacker has bounced back from those earlier setbacks. And the fact he has been able to stay relatively healthy and free of any major injuries for the past two seasons straight is a personal milestone that shouldn’t be overlooked. On the brink of what will likely be his second-straight trip to the Pro Bowl, Lee is playing his best football right now.

Against the New York Giants on Sunday night, Lee was team-credited for an amazing 22 tackles! That’s a franchise record, breaking the total of 21 tackles previously held by himself and former Cowboy great Lee Roy Jordan. Pro Football Focus currently ranks Lee as the fourth best overall linebacker in the NFL.

Lee’s ability to stay healthy corresponded with the Cowboys decision to move the former middle linebacker to the weakside. And that move has paid off in spades. Last season, Lee recorded 128 total tackles, five pass defends, 2.5 sacks and one interception in 14 games. He also received his first Pro Bowl bid.

This season, in just 13 games so far, Lee has posted a whopping 130 total tackles, 1 pass defend and an interception on a two-point try. If you ask the veteran linebacker himself, he’ll likely tell you the only record he cares about is 11-2. But after struggling so long with the injury bug, Sean Lee deserves much more credit for being able to stay on the field these past two seasons. It’s made all the difference.

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