Sean Lee should be stronger than ever when he returns from knee surgery.
Dr. Dan Cooper, the Cowboys’ team doctor, repaired Lee’s torn left anterior cruciate ligament Thursday morning. Lee was injured May 27, the first day of organized team activities.
“He’ll be back and doing his rehab before you know it, and he’ll be back on the playing field before you know it,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
Lee partially tore the ACL in the left knee in 2009 while a senior at Penn State and never had it repaired. Cowboys head athletic trainer Jim Maurer said Lee will return stronger with the knee finally surgically repaired.
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“I have already told him, ‘We’re going to be fine,’” Maurer said. “You’re going to play for six more years. This ACL, we’re going to get this fixed.”
The typical rehab time for an ACL repair is 7-9 months, which likely means Lee’s season is over. But since the Cowboys have no need to make an immediate roster move, they are afforded time to see how Lee’s rehab is progressing before facing a decision on whether to place him on season-ending injured reserve.
“There’s certainly an allocated amount of time that it takes for guys to heal, coming back from these kinds of injuries,” Garrett said. “Sean’s going to come in here every day and do everything he can to get himself back.
“It’s going to take some time. We all understand that. He understands that. He’s been down this road before. But … he’s as mentally tough a guy as I’ve ever been around. He has as much passion for this game and for being great in this game as anybody I’ve ever been around. So those are all positive things for his rehab.”
Defensive end Anthony Spencer is confident his comeback from microfracture knee surgery will have a happy ending, with him on the field at some point in the 2014 season.
“I’m sure some other people have their doubts, but I don’t have any doubts, no,” Spencer said.
Spencer, who played only 34 snaps last season, has started running. He said his two runs on the field over the last week have left him encouraged.
However, Spencer concedes he is a long way from getting back to practice.
“It’s one thing to be able to run and then another whole thing to play football, so I’ve got a little ways to go,” Spencer, 30, said. “But it’s progress and that’s basically what I’ve been showing this whole time.”
He acknowledges he could open training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Active/PUP would allow him to return to practice anytime before final cuts. Reserve/PUP would force him to miss the first six games.
Spencer said his rehab has him convinced he will be back.
“Because of the progress that I see, I’ve seen not being able to walk to being able to walk to being able to run,” he said. “I feel good about it.”
Garrett said he anticipates having a conversation with backup quarterback Kyle Orton before next week’s mandatory minicamp.
“I haven’t spoken with him directly,” Garrett said. “I’m trying to get with him. He’s trying to get with me. And hopefully we have a good conversation.”
Garrett and Orton share the same agent, David Dunn.
While saying they anticipate Orton taking part in the three-day minicamp, the Cowboys don’t know for certain that the backup quarterback will show. He faces daily fines, which would total $69,455 for the three days.
Orton, 31, has skipped the voluntary off-season program, including the 10 days of organized team activities while contemplating his future.
Orton would have to repay the Cowboys $3 million of his $5 million signing bonus if he retires. He is scheduled to make $3.25 million this season.