The Dallas Cowboys would love to have a healthy and productive Sean Lee for an entire season, and in an effort to help the talented linebacker remain in playing condition the team is taking a new approach to making sure that the squad's defensive leader is available for the entire season. Changes are being made, not only to his on the field role but to how Lee practices as well.
This season will see Lee move to the weak side linebacker where he will have the added benefit of a defensive lineman in front of him to (hopefully) limit some of the hits that he takes during the game. In Rod Marinelli's defensive scheme the weak side linebacker follows the under tackle. This will benefit Sean in the same way that having a lead blocker helps out a running back. Having the three technique in front of him should free up Lee to make plays, which is something that he is very effective at doing. Linebackers coach Matt Eberflus is excited to see what the change will bring to the defense.
"That's where you build your defense, your under tackle and then your Will linebacker. That's where we start. Those are the two guys that make the whole thing go. That's the engine of the defense. We're excited to have [Lee] there." - Matt Eberflus
For Lee the position change is really nothing new. When the Cowboys played in the 3-4 defense under Rob Ryan he spend a lot of time being married to the three technique. The alignment may be different under Marinelli but the role will be the same one that first allowed Lee to shine.
In addition to providing Sean with a little more protection in front of him, changes are also being made to how Lee prepares for a game. No longer will the veteran linebacker be playing every snap, game or practice, like a man with his hair on fire. That style of play has been a major factor in why he was so often injured, and now the Cowboys leader understands why dialing it back a few notches is going to work out better for the team. Eberflus has a tiger (or a Nittany Lion) by the tail this year and he is working to make sure his superstar keeps it under wraps until necessary.
"He's a Type-A personality. He's an alpha type of guy. He's learning how to take things with the whole process and knowing when to go hard and when to kind of pull back a little bit. He's doing a real good job with that."
In last week's conference call with season ticket holders Dallas Executive Vice President Stephen Jones informed fans that #50 was well on his way to returning to the gridiron following a season ending knee injury suffered during OTAs last summer. For the Cowboys the real challenge is going to be in keeping Sean Lee available and the coaching staff has already implemented measures to do just that.