Sean Lee

Cowboys’ Sean Lee To Miss Several Games

On Tuesday, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told reporters that linebacker Sean Lee will be sidelined for “a little bit” with a hamstring injury. As it turns out, a “little bit” could turn out to be a long while. Lee’s injury is expected to keep him off the field until December and could push his return into the final weeks of the regular season, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News hears.

Lee is expected to miss the next four to six weeks of action, which means that he will be out until Dec. 9 against the Eagles, at best. At worst, that timeline would keep him out of action until the Bucs game on Dec. 23, the second-to-last game of the regular season.

Lee suffered his injury in the third quarter against the Titans on Monday night while chasing tight end Jonnu Smith on a completed pass. Lee also missed three games earlier this year, meaning that he has missed a total of 13 games due to hamstring issues throughout his career.

The Cowboys stayed afloat without Lee earlier this year thanks to the play of linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Still, they’re a better defense with Lee on the field.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Cowboys, Patriots, Michel, Jets

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee aggravated his hamstring injury in Monday night’s game against the Titans and will be sidelined for “a little bit,” head coach Jason Garrett told reporters, including Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Lee, of course, has had problems staying healthy throughout his lengthy career, as he’s never played a full 16-game slate and just recently missed Weeks 4-6. While Dallas’ defense has historically posted vastly inferior production without Lee on the field, those splits have become less stark thanks to the excellent play of fellow Cowboys linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Lee isn’t the only member of the Cowboys expected to be sidelined for multiple weeks, as left guard Connor Williams is likely to require knee surgery that will knock him out of action for a few games, according to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. Williams’ injury isn’t season-ending, but he’s going to have to sit out for several weeks as he recovers. The 50th overall selection in the 2018 draft, Williams has been a middling option at guard this season, ranking 42nd among 75 positional qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Per George, it’s unclear how the Cowboys will replace Williams, but La’el Collins — a former guard — won’t be moved off right tackle.
  • In the AFC, we have news on two injured Patriots running backs, including rookie Sony Michel. Michel suffered a knee injury against the Bears in Week 7 and hasn’t played since, but he’s on track to return against the Titans on Sunday, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. New England hasn’t had any trouble in its backfield even without Michel thanks to the efforts of James White and Cordarrelle Patterson, but Michel — who managed at least 18 carries and touchdown in Weeks 4-6 — will give the Patriots a more balanced attack.
  • Fellow Patriots running back Jeremy Hill announced on Twitter that he underwent surgery for his torn ACL on Monday. Hill suffered his knee injury in Week 1, but players will often wait on surgery for a variety of reasons. Hill, who is in his first season with New England, may have waited for swelling to subside, or, as Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald tweets, Hill could have hoped to restore range of motion prior to an operation. After inking a one-year, $1.5MM deal this offseason, Hill will hit free agency next spring entering his age-27 campaign.
  • Is offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates the right play-caller to lead Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold‘s development? That’s the question Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News attempts to answer in his most recent column, noting that Darnold has displayed signs of progress despite his high interception totals.

Extra Points: Gordon, Pats, Lee, Giants, Lions

In a development that’s sure to prompt thousands of early phone alarms Sunday morning, Melvin Gordon has been downgraded to questionable. The Chargers‘ top threat is now a true game-time decision to play against the Titans in London, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Considering this is an 8:30am CT game, this will obviously test the commitment of Gordon’s North American-based fantasy owners while putting the Bolts down one of their best players. Gordon was a limited participant in Friday’s practice, but as ESPN’s Eric Williams notes (on Twitter), wasn’t listed on the injury report until Saturday. A hamstring malady places Gordon’s availability for Week 7 in question. The Chargers took precautions against a Gordon absence by promoting Detrez Newsome from their practice squad. Since finishing his first two NFL seasons on IR, Gordon has played in 22 straight games and emerged as one of the league’s best backs.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • The Cowboys will have the services of Sean Lee on Sunday against the Redskins. Lee is not on Dallas’ injury report for its game against Washington. He missed the past three games because of a hamstring strain, opening the door for first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch to log plenty of playing time. Vander Esch responded and enters Week 7 as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 overall linebacker. Lee, Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith will split time in Dallas’ nickel package, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes.
  • A disastrous Giants start will result in more changes to their maligned offensive line. Big Blue will bench free agent guard pickup Patrick Omameh and move center John Greco to guard on Monday night, Dan Duggan of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Former Chargers starting center Spencer Pulley will move into the role of Giants first-string snapper, Duggan adds. Omameh suffered a knee injury in practice this week, but Duggan notes this decision was made prior to that occurring. PFF slots the former Jaguars starter as its No. 67 guard (out of 73 full-time players at this position). He’s signed to a three-year, $15MM deal. Pulley, who started all 16 games for the Chargers last season, landed in New York via post-preseason waiver claim. Pulley will join Greco and right tackle Chad Wheeler as replacement starters for this year’s Giants front.
  • Despite logging three limited practices this week, Ziggy Ansah will not return for the Lions on Sunday. Detroit declared its top pass rusher out for a fifth straight game. The franchise-tagged defensive end said (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press) like he felt like he could play, but the Lions will continue to soldier on without him. He’s been trying to surmount a shoulder injury since exiting in Week 1 because of it.
  • T.J. Lang, however, will return to the Lions’ lineup. The veteran guard missed two games because of a concussion and sought medical advice from several doctors, per Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. While Lang’s return will be a welcome sight for Lions fans, Meinke does not expect Detroit to keep him around in 2019. The final year of Lang’s Lions deal comes with an $11.7MM cap hit. It would save the Lions $9MM if they cut Lang, for whom they authorized a $9.5MM-AAV deal in 2017.
  • Rob Gronkowski is almost certainly going to miss the Patriots-Bears game, with ankle and back trouble keeping the all-world tight end home after his team departed for Chicago. But the Patriots will also be without backup Jacob Hollister, the team announced. This leaves Dwayne Allen as the only healthy tight end available. The former Colt has one catch this season. The Pats still haven’t declared Gronk out, which would make for an interesting sequence of events were he to play without boarding the team plane.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Thomas, Lee, Packers

Seven workouts has not yet produced an addition to San Francisco’s quarterback room, and one may not be coming despite the new 49ers backup being a former UDFA only promoted to the active roster this week. The 49ers do not plan to sign a veteran quarterback this week, NFL.com’s Jim Trotter tweets. While he adds that remains a possibility in the near future, don’t expect an outside addition to come this week. E.J. Manuel, Tom Savage, Kellen Clemens, T.J. Yates, Landry Jones, Matt Simms and Kyle Allen all worked out for the 49ers. But the NFC’s Bay Area team is evidently set with a C.J. BeathardNick Mullens depth chart heading into its Week 4 clash with the Chargers. The 49ers’ chances of being a surprise playoff contender absorbed a massive blow last week when Jimmy Garoppolo went down, and Kyle Shanahan said any veteran added would not be a threat to usurp Beathard. The second-year Iowa product started five games last season, completing 54.9 percent of his passes and throwing four touchdown passes compared to six interceptions. The 49ers went 1-4 in those games.

Here’s the latest from the NFC:

  • The Cowboys‘ defensive fortunes have generally taken hits when Sean Lee isn’t available, and the linebacker’s latest absence comes at a bad time for the 1-2 team. Dallas will be without its top linebacker for a few weeks “at least,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Lee suffered a hamstring injury on Sunday. This latest setback involves Lee’s right hamstring. A left hamstring issue caused him to miss time last season. First-round pick Leighton Vander Esch now stands to see a more prominent role in the near future.
  • Dallas remains the favorite to acquire Earl Thomas, in the event the Seahawks trade him, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com writes. Thomas drew a penalty for bowing at the Cowboys’ bench following an interception in Seattle’s Week 3 win over Dallas. The Cowboys have offered a second-round pick for Thomas, but the Seahawks still want more. The safety nonetheless heard more rumblings about a deal with Dallas on Sunday, though. “Yeah, of course, I heard chatter. People were coming up to me and saying a trade might happen,” Thomas said. “Even pregame, a couple Cowboys coaches came up to me, I don’t know if they were playing psychological games, but they were like, ‘You ready for the trade tomorrow?” He remains a Seahawk, but the situation’s become quite strange.
  • Thomas said after Seattle’s win he missed two practices last week to protect himself from injury, and he expects to be fined for the absences. This is consistent with a report that emerged pregame Sunday. “I need to make sure my body is 100,” he said, via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. “I’m invested in myself. If they was invested in me, I would be out there practicing. But if I feel like anything — I don’t give a damn if it’s small, I’ve got a headache — I’m not practicing. But I don’t want that to be taken the wrong way. I know I’m going to get fined. But that’s just where I’m at with that.” Pete Carroll said the Seahawks still “love” Thomas as a person and a player and described communication between the team and the All-Pro safety as “ongoing.” Carroll did not specify if this communication is regarding an extension.
  • The Packers are preparing to start Byron Bell at right guard on Sunday against the Bills, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Justin McCray is dealing with a shoulder injury, one the Packers don’t believe will be a long-term issue. However, Bell is expected to step in for the time being. An eighth-year player, Bell’s spent almost the entirety of his career at tackle. He has previously played guard but hasn’t worked there nearly as much as he has on the edge.

Injury Notes: Winston, Freeman, Fuller, Hurns

We heard yesterday that Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston could miss “an extended period” of time as he recovered from a shoulder injury. However, head coach Dirk Koetter was still adamant that the franchise signal-caller would take the field again this season.

“Again, (the plan we adopted) was for Jameis to rest for two weeks and then we’re going to see where he’s at,” Koetter said (via Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders). “We’ve talked to multiple doctors (about it) and that’s what the plan is.

 “And I know that Jameis plans on playing again (this year). And there’s been no discussion between Jason and myself of him not playing again so that would all be something that would have to come up in the future.’’

Let’s take a look at some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Falcons running back Devonta Freeman is unlikely to suit up for next Monday’s game against the Seahawks, reports ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Freeman suffered his second concussion of the season this past weekend, although Schefter notes that the player isn’t expected to miss multiple games. The 25-year-old has compiled 515 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee may be forced to shut it down for several weeks. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the defender is unlikely to play this week or during the team’s Thanksgiving contest against the Chargers. Head coach Jason Garrett confirmed that Lee may miss several games, noting that “it might be some time” before he returns (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com).
  • Texans wideout Will Fuller suffered a cracked rib during his team’s loss to the Rams this weekend, according to Rapoport (via Twitter). Fortunately, the second-year player didn’t experience extensive damage and may only miss a single game. The 23-year-old has been a touchdown machine this season, hauling in seven scores.
  • We learned last week that Bengals running back Jeremy Hill‘s season was over, and it sounds like it was the player’s decision to be placed on the injured reserve. Head coach Marvin Lewis said it was Hill who ultimately opted for the ankle surgery, which resulted in him landing on the injured reserve (via Rapoport on Twitter). The former second-rounder has compiled only 116 rushing yards on 37 carries this season, a far cry from his 1,124-yard performance in 2014.
  • Jaguars wideout Allen Hurns suffered a right ankle injury against the Chargers on Sunday, and coach Doug Marrone doesn’t see him taking the field this weekend. “Yeah, I don’t anticipate him playing this week,’’ Marrone said (via Cummings). “I would say yes (in terms of him missing this week), but I wouldn’t know (about his availability) after that.’’ As Cummings points out, Hurns absence could force the team to finally play wideout Dede Westbrook, who is eligible to be activated off of the injured reserve.

Cowboys, Sean Lee Restructure Contract

The Cowboys have restructured the contract of linebacker Sean Lee, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (Twitter link). The move will give Dallas a little more than $5MM in space to work with, sources say. Sean Lee (vertical)

Lee, 31 in July, missed the entire 2014 season and but came back strong in 2015, earning a Pro Bowl nod along the way. This past season, he topped himself by getting a Pro Bowl nod as well as a First-Team All-Pro selection, the first of his career.

As of this writing, the Cowboys now have about $9MM in breathing room. That will come in handy this week, particularly if the Cowboys are serious about major expenditures like wide receiver Kenny Britt. Still, space is limited and we are expecting the Cowboys to ration out their available room to spend. Already, the Cowboys are anticipating the loss of several key free agents.

The Cowboys also recently restructured the deals of tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Give Sean Lee Additional Bonus

Last year, linebacker Sean Lee was slated to earn a $2MM bonus for appearing in 80% of the team’s defensive snaps. In Week 17, Lee was on the cusp of locking that bonus in, but he was battling a hamstring injury. Rather than play at half-strength to cash in, Lee opted to sit out of the game so that a healthy player could take his place. That gesture was not lost on the Cowboys. Today, Dallas gave Lee a $125K per-game bonus this year, totaling $2MM if he plays 16 games, a source tells Don Banks on TwitterSean Lee (vertical)

[RELATED: Cowboys To Meet With QB Austin Davis]

Of course, it’s not a given that Lee will stay healthy for the entire year. Injuries cost Lee the entire 2014 season and he also missed significant time in 2012 and 2013. Last year, however, Lee bounced back to appear in 14 games and log a career-high 128 tackles on his way to a Pro Bowl nod. After suspensions ravaged the Cowboys’ front seven, Dallas is rooting for Lee to earn that extra $2MM this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Brady, Cowboys, Panthers

Robert Kraft addressed the reinstatement of Tom Brady‘s suspension on Friday night, and the Patriots owner certainly didn’t mince his words.

“Number one, there is no finer ambassador for the game of football, and the New England Patriots, than Tom Brady,” Kraft said, via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com. “We always have had, and will continue to have, Tom’s back. Especially when he’s being treated unfairly. He knows that. All the decisions that this organization and I personally have made throughout this ordeal have been focused on putting Tom in the best possible position for success.”

“Number two, I have been in constant communication with Tom over the past 16 months and we’ve had numerous conversations this past week. We are both on the same page and he knows exactly where my allegiances, and the total team’s [allegiances] are, relative to the extremely unfair discipline that he has been subjected to.”

“I share in our fans’ anger and frustration with the penalties the league has levied, and the entire process and how it was conducted. But please trust that I am always trying to do what I believe is best for this franchise, and pledge that I will always continue to do that.”

The Patriots have seemingly started preparing for Brady’s absence, as the organization selected quarterback Jacoby Brissett during last night’s third round.

Let’s check out some more non-draft-related notes from around the NFL…

  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee underwent minor knee surgery yesterday, tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Expected recovery time is two weeks for the 29-year-old. The former second-round pick finished last season with 128 tackles, a career-high.
  • The Cowboys are no longer pursuing veteran defensive end Jeremy Mincey, tweets Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram. The writer notes that the team also won’t be adding former-Lions defensive lineman Jason Jones.
  • ESPN.com’s David Newton believes the Panthers will pursue a veteran cornerback following the draft (Twitter link).

NFC Rumors: Manning, Brees, Cowboys

The Giants could be in store for major changes this winter and spring, but quarterback Eli Manning hopes that the offense remains the same, as Ebenezer Samuel of the Daily News writes.

Yep, of course,” Manning said when asked whether he wants the offense to remain in tact for 2016. “I feel very comfortable in the offense. We scored a lot of points, we were competitive in most of the games and I thought we had a great game plan. I think with the guys we have and add a few guys, we can be a strong offense.”

Manning threw for a career-best 35 touchdowns this season, along with 4,436 yards, the second-highest total of his career. He didn’t commit to speaking to the front office about his feelings on the system, but he didn’t rule it out, either.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • When asked if he would be amenable if the Saints came to him to talk about a contract extension for this year, Drew Brees said, “absolutely” (Twitter link via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com). Brees is due a $30MM cap hold as he enters the final year of the five-year, $100MM deal he inked in 2012.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee missed the team’s season finale and his absence appears to have cost him a possible $2MM escalator bonus for the 2016 season, as Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram writes. Lee had to play in 80% of snaps this season in order to bump his $3MM base salary to $5MM. Lee said after the game that the decision was his and that he felt trying to force things wouldn’t have helped his team.
  • Vikings tight end Rhett Ellison tore his patellar tendon and he is done for the 2015 season, according to coach Mike Zimmer (Twitter link via Ben Goessling of ESPN.com)
  • Bears linebacker Shea McClellin is slated to hit the open market but he says that he would “love” to be back if the team will have him, Patrick Finley of the Sun Times writes. McClellin added that he wants to stay at inside linebacker, wherever he goes. McClellin played in 12 games, starting 11, in his first year at inside linebacker.

East Notes: Dolphins, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys

Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell, whose short stint is almost sure to end Sunday, spoke about his tenure to Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald.

On what he’ll do differently if given another opportunity in the future, Campbell said, “I would do a better job of holding everyone more accountable, from staff to players.”

Going forward, Campbell believes the Dolphins need more leadership from quarterback Ryan Tannehill and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

“Certainly, those are two guys that you’d love to see grow more into that area, and it would help,” he stated.

Campbell also used the word “frustration” to describe the Dolphins’ 5-10 season (and 4-7 mark under his reign). He’ll try to go out with a win Sunday as the Dolphins host AFC East rival New England.

More on the Dolphins and three NFC East teams:
  • With the Giants’ Tom Coughlin era seemingly on the verge of ending, the New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano wrote Friday that the team should pursue the Saints’ Sean Payton and Alabama’s Nick Saban as possible successors. In addition to Payton and Saban, Vacchiano listed more potential candidates Saturday. Featured prominently: New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, current Giants O-coordinator Ben McAdoo – though Vacchiano argues that he’d be tough to sell to their fan base – as well as college head coaches Brian Kelly (Notre Dame) and David Shaw (Stanford). There’s also Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, a pair of Carolina assistants in OC Mike Shula and D-coordinator Sean McDermott, two more O-coordinators (Pittsburgh’s Todd Haley and Cincinnati’s Hue Jackson), and Jacksonville assistant Doug Marrone. Haley, Jackson and Marrone were all mixed bags in their prior head coaching stops, while Spagnuolo and McDaniels flamed out in epic fashion in St. Louis and Denver, respectively.
  • The Dolphins’ Olivier Vernon, who leads the team in sacks (seven), could be playing his last game with the team Sunday, ESPN’s James Walker writes. Vernon, 25, stands to cash in as a pending free agent. Thus, he might not fit within the Dolphins’ budget. Vernon does want to stay in Miami, though. “I’d like to be here,” Vernon told Walker. “But at the end of the day, business is business. So if this is my last game and I enter free agency, then I’m going to see how that goes.”
  • As we learned Saturday afternoon, the Eagles interviewed running backs coach Duce Staley for their vacant head coaching job. Whether they’re truly serious about him remains to be seen, but the interview means they’ve already fulfilled the Rooney Rule because Staley is a minority candidate. That means they could hire Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase, whom they’re interested in, as early as Monday. However, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that won’t happen. Gase will bide his time and explore all options, per Florio.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee will lose out on $2MM extra if he doesn’t play Sunday against Washington, Brandon George of SportsDay writes. Lee, whose status is up in the air because of a hamstring injury, has incentives in his contract that will kick his 2015-16 salary from $3MM to $5MM if he plays 80 percent of snaps on the season. He’s currently at 82.1.