Dallas Cowboys’ fans learned Wednesday morning team tackle-leader Sean Lee will have season-ending toe surgery.
The third-year linebacker tore ligaments in his right big toe in the second half of Dallas’ 19-14 win over the Carolina Panthers Sunday. After trying to play through the injury, Lee took himself out of the game.
Dallas has lots of depth at the linebacker position, but replacing Lee will be difficult, as he has 77 tackles after six games.
Just behind Lee on the depth chart is Dan Connor, a five year veteran who signed this offseason after four years with the Carolina Panthers, and he is expected to take over the starting position.
Connor filled in for Lee against Carolina and recorded two tackles. Appearing in five games this season, the 6-foot-2 Penn State standout has 11 total tackles. However, Connor has also dealt with injuries, as he was listed on injured reserve twice in his first four seasons.
Lee was also the defensive signal caller, and those responsibilities now fall to second-year middle linebacker Bruce Carter.
The Cowboys viewed Lee, along with superstar DeMarcus Ware and six-year veteran Anthony Spencer, as anchors to their linebacker corps for the next several seasons.
Reportedly, Dallas has reached out to veteran Ernie Sims to possibly sign him to fill the void left by Lee, according to ESPN.
Losing Lee comes at what could be a crossroads for the 3-3 Cowboys, as they welcome the NFC East-leading New York Giants Sunday.
New York has the second-ranked offense in the NFL, averaging 411.6 total yards per game and the fourth most points at 29.3 behind quarterback Eli Manning. The Giants have also allowed six sacks this season, the lowest in the league.
The Cowboys sole win over a team with a winning record was Week 1, when they beat New York 24-17. Lee had a team high 12 total tackles in that win, with Spencer behind him with seven. Another win over the Giants would give Dallas a huge advantage for the division crown, should the two teams tie at the end of the season.
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