Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Sean Lee is hurting.
The oft-injured Dallas Cowboys veteran linebacker did not practice Wednesday as the team began installation for its Week 15 contest against the Los Angeles Rams. Lee, already battling a pectoral injury, is now dealing with a new thigh ailment, muddying his status for Sunday’s home showdown.
Head coach Jason Garrett is not yet overly concerned about Lee. But he also realizes the injuries are impacting his practice ability.
“He will be limited if he does anything,” Garrett said before Thursday’s practice.
Indeed, Lee was limited for a second straight day, doing individual drills off to the side, as the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken captured.
The Cowboys are thin at linebacker with Leighton Vander Esch (neck) likely done for the remainder of the regular season, if not longer. Lee has filled his starting spot, collecting 23 tackles across the last three games. He made a team-high 12 stops working in place of Vander Esch during Dallas’ Week 9 victory over the Giants.
Lee is famously injury-prone, having never completed a 16-game regular season since entering the NFL in 2010. He played in just seven games last year and 11 in 2017.
Lee was able to get in a limited session during Friday’s practice. In turn, the team revealed that he’s officially listed as questionable for the contest. There’s cautious optimism he’s able to go.
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LVE’s absence and the insertion of Lee into the lineup have meant an increase in snaps for reserve ‘backer Joe Thomas, who’s recorded 30 tackles through 13 appearances. For the sake of context, he combined for 28 tackles in the 2017 and 2018 campaigns. He’d draw the start if Lee’s sidelined.
Gifford, who overcame an early-season injury of his own, has appeared in only five games and converted his scant reps into six tackles, primarily on special teams. He figures to be active regardless if Lee suits up.
In more improbable contingency plans, the Cowboys may lean on rarely-used LB Justin March or promote Chris Covington from the practice squad to the active roster. They’d have to release a player in a corresponding move, though, as the 53-man squad is at full capacity.
LVE to Miss Another Game
Reflecting their safer-than-sorry approach, the Cowboys reportedly will hold Vander Esch out of the Rams game. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday as both parties cautiously navigate the neck stinger plaguing the 2018 first-round draft pick.
Dallas is keeping hope alive that Vander Esch returns to the field this season, perhaps in the playoffs. While he’s scheduled to undergo further testing next week, Garrett said the club isn’t ready to move him to injured reserve.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL