He’s the oldest position player on the Dallas Cowboys roster. He can’t beat long snapper L.P. Ladouceur who is 39, but Sean Lee, at 33, is certainly in the twilight of his career. Because of that, he’s feeling the desperation of winning a championship.
“You feel like the old man when you realize some of these mid-, late-’90s birthdays of the guys you’re playing with,” Lee said. “It does keep you young. But I’m as excited as I’ve ever been and love the game as much as I ever loved it. It’s good. It gives you a sense of urgency that you only have so many shots to win a championship. When you get near the end and don’t have that championship, you feel that more than ever.”
Lee is no longer the focal point of the Cowboys defense. He’s passed the linebacking duties on to Leighton Vander Esch and Jylon Smith. At least, that was the plan. But with LVE missing nine games last year, Lee actually ended up with more defensive snaps playing on 59% to Vander Esch’s 47%. The word is that LVE has recovered from his injury but it’s still likely Lee will see time on the field, either in three-man linebacker formations or as a substitute. Additionally, Lee played on 19% of the special teams snaps. John Fassel is likely keeping an eye on that
2019 was also a unique year for Lee, he participated in all 16 games (starting 13 in the Cowboys base set at SAM linebacker before replacing Vander Esch). Playing in all 16 games is something he had never accomplished before. The part-time player aspect maybe agrees with his body. One thing’s for sure, this unusual offseason has not put a stop to Lee’s work ethic.
“I had to jump a couple fences to get on some different places,” Lee said of working through linebacker drills in various locales.
“I kind of stayed on the same schedule. I wouldn’t run as much early on, but then closer to the OTAs, I would gear up my running toward what it would be like during those OTAs and then for what it would be like going into a minicamp. It’s like approaching each segment of the offseason like always, and now going into the summer, it’s getting ready for training camp.”
The one thing he can’t do is meet with the new coaching staff and the rest of the defensive players. That aspect of the offseason has been reduced to a virtual existence.
Lee would have preferred face-to-face meetings with [Mike] McCarthy, [Mike] Nolan, linebackers coach Scott McCurley and senior defensive assistant George Edwards. He would have preferred the OTAs and minicamp to get a feel for the new scheme and his role in it. He would have preferred to have been around his teammates four days a week, too.
“That’s the toughest part, not being around the guys and building that bond that you work on from March to now,” Lee said. “The shared sacrifice of lifting and running together and kind of growing closer over time with hard work.”
Still, Lee says that they have been doing their Zoom meetings with the coaches. He also says the players have been holding their own virtual meetings or using group texts to further learn the new scheme.
The Cowboys offseason, along with the rest of the NFL’s, has been an unusual one. But Lee just keeps on doing what he does, working, learning and preparing for the NFL season. The old man wants a championship and is preparing to get one.