Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee’s dream is to play all 16 games for Super Bowl contender

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee works with athletic trainer Britt Brown during his rehab from knee surgery.
Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee works with athletic trainer Britt Brown during his rehab from knee surgery. rmallison@star-telegram.com

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee is missing practice now so he can practice fully in training camp and during the season.

The Pro Bowler had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee April 29 and insists he “feels great,” though the medical staff has yet to fully clear Lee.

“I feel great physically,” Lee said Thursday after the team’s annual high school football camp to end OTAs. “I’m getting better each week. I think I’ll be 100 percent ready by training camp.

“This is one of the deals, it was a leftover issue from that ACL surgery I had. We knew we might have to do it at some point. I started to have some problems in April with it, and we figured let’s do it now so we don’t have issues in season.”

Lee, who tore his left anterior cruciate ligament two years ago, said he felt discomfort squatting, lifting and running. Thus, he elected for surgery to clean up the cartilage.

“You end up having to manage it more than you want,” Lee said. “Hopefully, the surgery will allow me to practice every practice and not have to take practices off to manage my knee. That’s the goal. You want to be able to practice every practice so you can improve and also be with your teammates, and I think this surgery will help that.”

Lee plans to practice the first day of training camp. That’s his target date to return.

“I’ll be out there,” Lee said. “I’ll be shocked if I wasn’t out there. I’m right on pace to be out there. At the same point, I’m going to make sure I’m healthy in season and ready for the first game. The first day of training camp is the goal.”

Lee earned his first Pro Bowl last season after moving from middle linebacker to weakside linebacker. But it gave him no satisfaction since the Cowboys missed the playoffs with a 4-12 record.

“No. I mean you want to win,” Lee said. “I’d like to play 16 games and for us to get on a roll and really have a shot in the playoffs and be competing for a championship. Last year, going into the year, we thought that was the position we were going to be in. Unfortunately, we weren’t. How we respond from that…. We know we have the guys. We know we can be in that position, but we have to battle adversity and get back on track.”

Lee missed two games with concussions last season. He has missed 20 games in five seasons with injuries, never playing a full 16-game schedule.