Reporting Mike Fisher
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IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) - The Dallas Cowboys believe middle linebacker Sean Lee is capable of winning a Pro Bowl berth. But first, the modest Lee says he wants to win the middle linebacker job in Dallas’ new 4-3 defense.
“Right now, I’m in the middle, but you never know,” Lee said, politely suggesting there is competition for a job that fully belongs to him. “You always have to come in there and win a spot, and that’s what I plan to do.”
The fourth-year standout from Penn State has been Dallas’ top playmaker in his position group. The team believes that injury is the only thing that stands in his way of becoming one of the NFL’s best. In the first six games of the 2012 season, he notched a team-high 58 tackles and recorded an interception. But in Week 7 he tore ligaments in his right big toe – what he calls a “fluke injury’’ that ended his season.
Lee said that while he’s just shy of being 100-percent healthy, if the Cowboys “had a game tomorrow,’’ he’d play. “The toe is ready to go,’’ he said.
And when Dallas does have a game, Lee will be a centerpiece, positioned in the middle of new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 alignment, with a Tampa-2 pass coverage design that requires speed and drop-back ability from the Mike.
“Learning the new defense, it’s been awesome with coach Kiffin,” Lee said. “The intensity we’ve had this spring has been great and we have to carry that over to OTAs and bring that to camp.”
Lee said he is well-aware of his reputation as an oft-injured player.
“Ever since college, I’ve really changed across the board how I’ve trained, how I try to recover, stretching, eating, every habit that can help me stay on the field,” Lee said. “Last year, the type of injury it was, I thought it was a fluke. It’s not much you really can do to avoid that. But I’m still at this stage trying to avoid injuries, and I have to find a way to stay on the field.
“If I want to be an effective player, I have to be on the field.”
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