Dallas Cowboys

Sean Lee wants to keep playing to be ready for first playoff game

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee has not missed a snap this season after missing 36 games with injuries in his first six seasons.
Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee has not missed a snap this season after missing 36 games with injuries in his first six seasons. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

Sean Lee expressed disappointment at not making the Pro Bowl, but he didn’t want to play in the game anyway. He hopes to be with his teammates preparing for the Super Bowl in Houston rather than in Orlando.

Lee has never played in the playoffs, having missed the 2014 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

“If you look at my career in college and through the pros, I’ve missed out on some really good teams,” Lee said Saturday. “For me to just be a part of this and being able to play a role in this, it’s something I’ve always dreamt of. And so to be able to be healthy to be able to product and help us win, that’s something I’ve put work in for a long time to be able to do that.”

The Cowboys weakside linebacker has had his most productive season, and with two games remaining, could play the first full season of his career. He has missed 36 games in his seven-year career with injuries.

This season, Lee has not left the field. He has played every defensive snap.

Lee doesn’t care that the Cowboys cannot improve their playoff position. He wants to remain on the field for the final two games.

“It’s going to be hard to take me off the field,” Lee said. “I love playing, I love being around this time of year, and I want to play as much as possible. I think playing has always made me better. Playing in games makes you better. I love playing. I think it can only help me going into the playoffs.”

The Cowboys might decide otherwise considering Lee has a minor knee injury, which limited him for all three practices this week and has him as questionable for Monday’s game.

“I think not playing in these games can affect me negatively in the playoffs more,” Lee said. “You need to play. The competition and the difference between where you want to be and making plays or not making plays is very small. The margin for error is small. So you have to play. You have to stay out there. You have to continue to get better. Playing is the only way to really do that.”

Lee ranks second in the NFL in tackles, an unofficial statistic, with 140 based on numbers from pressbox statisticians. The Cowboys list him with 168.

The Cowboys listed Lee as an inside linebacker on the Pro Bowl ballot, and Carolina’s Luke Kuechly and Seattle’s Bobby Wagner earned the two spots. Kuechly has played only 10 games and is not expected to return this season. Wagner leads the NFL with 145 tackles.

“I’m a competitive guy,” Lee said. “At the same point, the guys who made it are great players. It’s a hard game to make. For me, being able to play this time of year, I haven’t been able to do that a lot, to be able to play on a team like this, it’s a true blessing. For me that’s a focus and going forward and finding a way to get better, that’s what I’m working on.”