Count linebacker Sean Lee’s health as a positive to come out of the Dallas Cowboys’ season-opening loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.
Lee played all 56 defensive snaps, joining cornerback Brandon Carr as the only defenders to do so.
Lee finished with a team-high 10 tackles, a positive sign for a guy who has been slowed by a knee injury throughout training camp and the preseason.
“I felt good,” Lee said. “My knee, I feel like I’m healthy and obviously want to play. I felt good physically and I think I’m going to continue to improve.”
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Lee, 30, had arthroscopic knee surgery in the off-season and the team has monitored his practice load. He played in only 18 snaps this preseason, all coming in the third game at Seattle, and has missed practice time of late because of his balky knee.
But Lee looked like his self on the field Sunday, and his stats backed that up. His solid game, though, didn’t make up for the late defensive meltdown in the 20-19 loss.
“Very frustrating,” Lee said. “Got to find a way to not let them score in the red zone. I think they scored every time they were in the red zone. At the end of the game, we didn’t give our offense enough time. We’ve got to get off the field sooner in that four-minute situation.”
Still, Lee being healthy and playing the entire game ranks as a bright spot for the Cowboys defense. This is arguably the team’s best defender who is coming off a Pro Bowl season in which the coaches credited him with 156 tackles, along with 2 1/2 sacks, six pressures, five breakups and an interception in 14 games.
Lee has stated his goal this season is to stay healthy and play a full 16-game season for the first time in his six-year career.