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Cowboys’ Sean Lee greeting new role with familiar intensity

Linebacker Sean Lee knew something wasn’t quite right as quarterback Dak Prescott rolled to his right on the first day of the Dallas Cowboys’ minicamp.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw wide receiver Amari Cooper stop, which immediately triggered to Lee that Prescott was throwing back across the field. As Prescott threw the ball, Lee darted to his right and tipped the pass away for an incompletion.

Lee played in only seven games in 2018 because of recurring hamstring injuries. When he returned late in the season, he told the coaches not to mess with Vander Esch and Smith because they were playing so well, which limited his own playing time. Lee’s 37 tackles were a career low, coming in just 220 snaps. In 2017, he missed five games because of hamstring injuries, but Lee still had 118 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four quarterback pressures and an interception.

There was a time when the Cowboys could not win without Lee. From 2015 through 2017, they were 1-7 without him.

Last season, the Cowboys found out they could succeed without him — as Vander Esch, a rookie first-round pick, and Smith, a second-rounder in 2016, flourished.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal7

However, Dallas wasn’t quite ready for life without Lee, and in March, he agreed to a restructured contract that will pay him $3.5 million and give him the chance to earn $7 million based on playing time and a playoff appearance.

“He’s a warrior, man,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said.

Lee could have looked elsewhere without the pay cut, but 10 years with the Cowboys mattered to him.

“I mean, it’s gone too fast,” said Lee, who was the Cowboys’ second-round pick in 2010. “It’s been a dream come true. I’ve been so blessed to be a part of this organization, to play with some incredible football players. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of faith put in me by the Joneses, stuck with me through a lot of injury and tough times; for me, the ultimate goal is to be able to bring a championship here. By now, I was hoping we would have one, but every time we step in here it’s a blessing. It’s so much fun. I feel like a rookie half the time I walk in here.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Lee, who will turn 33 a few days before the Cowboys leave in July for the start of training camp in Oxnard, California, will need to learn a new position: strongside linebacker. In the 4-3 scheme, the strongside linebacker can play on the ball or off the ball, depending on the call or formation, but there aren’t many snaps. Last season’s starter, Damien Wilson, played only 285 snaps with the Cowboys using their nickel defense more.