Dallas Cowboys

Embarrassing playoff performance motivation for Sean Lee: ‘Every day we think about it’

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee says he came back because he likes football too much to give up now

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee says he came back because he likes football too much to give up now
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Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee says he came back because he likes football too much to give up now

Sean Lee hasn’t forgotten.

The egg the Dallas Cowboys laid in the playoffs against the Los Angeles Rams still lingers for Lee and the defense.

After being the most stable aspect of the team all season, the Cowboys’ run defense was embarrassed to the tune of 273 yards rushing and 459 total yards in a 30-22 defeat.

“Every day we think about it,” Lee said after Wednesday’s practice as part of organized team activities. “When you think about the position we were in, and we had a great opportunity, and we didn’t play like we wanted to play and finish the season like we wanted to finish it. I think we use it as motivation. I think that’s why a lot of guys are here. We want to get back to that position and build on that.”

Lee, who is preparing for his 10th season in the NFL, said his move to strongside linebacker suits him fine.

“Some of [the situations] are very similar to what I’ve done in the past, when I’m off the ball and I’m able to run and move a little bit,” he said “I pride myself on being versatile and being able to adapt. I love being out there.”

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli likes the change because it will help limit Lee’s exposure to injury. He’s missed 17 games over the past four seasons because of injury. It will also allow Lee to be on the field at times with linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.

“It’s like having three All-Pro players there. It really is. Jaylon is as good as anybody [in the NFL], I think,” Marinelli said. “It’s good. We’re able to monitor [Lee’s] reps, too. He’s able to rotate in on some nickel [formations]. You keep the health. When he’s up and rolling he’s a pretty special player.”

And the Cowboys’ defense was putting together a pretty special season until that forgettable finale.

“A lot of the year we played like we wanted to play. Our goal as a group is to take that next step and be a championship defense every single game,” Lee said. “The last game was a disappointment for us. We want more turnovers and to make sure when we get to the playoffs that we can play at an extremely high level.”

That starts with OTAs, Lee said.

“As coach Marinelli says, ‘You have to learn how to tie your shoes again.’”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.