Sean Lee sat on the sidelines of Lambeau Field a year ago, watching the Dallas Cowboys suffer a heartbreaking and controversial loss to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Maybe Lee could have been the difference between the Cowboys keeping their season alive had he been healthy, but he wasn’t after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament and slight tear in his meniscus on May 27, 2014. He had surgery in June and was put on injured reserve in July.
Lee has returned to full strength. He led the team with 13 tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack, in Monday night’s 19-16 victory over the Washington Redskins.
He is hoping to have another difference-making performance Sunday when the Cowboys return to Lambeau Field.
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“Some of my biggest regrets being injured is not being able to play in games like [last year’s playoff game at Green Bay],” Lee said. “That was probably some of the toughest times during my rehab is not being able to play with your team in big situations. At the same point, it was motivating to find a way to come back and play against great teams and great situations.”
The Cowboys are a more complete defense with him on the field. In the playoff loss to the Packers, the Cowboys struggled to rattle a hobbled Aaron Rodgers.
The Cowboys sacked Rodgers only twice, and he had seemingly more time as the game wore on. Lee, as owner Jerry Jones reiterated during a radio interview Friday, could have changed that.
But the Cowboys decided to put Lee on injured reserve for the entire season, eliminating the possibility of his returning for the postseason. That’s part of the reason they have yet to put Tony Romo on season-ending IR this year, as they want to leave open the possibility of Romo returning for the postseason.
“My dream, of course, was I wish we would have had [Lee], say, when we played Green Bay last year,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “All of this is dreaming. All of this is ifs and buts, candy and nuts here. Still, last year we almost decided not to IR him. … Ultimately we decided to. But if he had been ready by the game against Green Bay, let’s say, then you possibly could have — he would have been a difference-maker there. I’ve looked back at that.”
Lee isn’t that much into revisionist history.
Asked if he would have been ready had he not been placed on injured reserve, Lee said: “No. I would not have been.”
Romo is the only player not healthy enough to play Sunday. The three other players on the injury report — receiver Dez Bryant (foot/knee), defensive end Greg Hardy (shin) and safety Jeff Heath (shoulder) — are probable.
However, Heath likely will play only special teams, like last week. His left shoulder continues to heal. He was limited in practice all week.
Staff writer Charean Williams contributed to this report.