The return of inside linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter will do a lot to improve the Cowboys defense.
Lost in the attention paid to the end of the season is something that should brighten up the offseason. Bruce Lee will back in the middle of the field for the Cowboys defense in 2013. Sean Lee has turned into one of the best ILBs in the league and was showing that form early in 2012 until a season-ending toe injury took him out. What surprised many of us was how well his partner Bruce Carter was playing. We knew Carter had talent coming out of college, but injury had made that a question mark. How would he do in the pros, and how quickly would he do it? We found that out right away. He's looking like he could be special, too. Then Carter dislocated his elbow and was lost for the rest of the year.
Ernie Sims, Dan Connor, Alex Albright and even Brady Poppinga gave a game effort in replacing Bruce Lee, but the defense was never the same. Sims was definitely a pleasant surprise and Albright showed some flashes, but Lee and Carter are playmakers. They make a defense dangerous. Thankfully, they are on schedule to return and shouldn't miss any of the offseason programs.
"I’ll be able to participate in everything in the offseason program," Lee said. "I’ll probably be ready to go earlier than when we start. February is when I’m looking to be pretty much 100 percent, around mid-February. It’s going great. I was with the doctor (Monday), and the toe looks great."
"My elbow’s good," Carter said. "I actually start doing band work and work on strengthening it this week coming up, so I’m progressing pretty well."
Earlier in the season, through Week 3, the Cowboys defense actually ranked number one in total yards allowed. Then the injuries piled up and they plummeted. A big reason was the absence of Bruce Lee, and they will return!