Coach Jason Garrett said he anticipates the surgery to be done by the Cowboys’ medical staff and would not close the door on Lee returning later in the season.
“We’ll see what the surgery indicates and we’ll make our decisions from there,” Garrett said.
If the Cowboys place Lee on injured reserve, it would end his season. The Cowboys could put him on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, which would keep him out of the first six games and give him another six-week window in which to potentially practice and return.
The Cowboys will not have to make a decision until it is time to go to training camp. Lee remains on the 90-man roster. The normal recovery is 8-10 months.
Lee suffered the injury on May 27 in the Cowboys’ first organized team activity when his knee buckled as he attempted to track down a running back on a screen pass. Rookie guard Zack Martin landed on Lee, but the Cowboys believe Lee suffered the injury before there was contact.
San Diego Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram tore his ACL last offseason and returned for the final four regular-season games and two playoff contests. Ingram is younger and does not have Lee’s injury history.
Lee suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in spring practice in his senior season at Penn State, causing him to miss the year. He partially tore his left ACL in his fifth year, which played a part in why the Cowboys were able to select him in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Lee has yet to play in a full season with the Cowboys. He missed two games as a rookie with a hamstring injury. He missed one game in 2011 with a dislocated wrist but played most of the year with a bulky cast. He missed 10 games in 2012 because of a toe injury that required surgery. He missed five games last year with hamstring and neck injuries.
“I just think we want to go in there and do the surgery, get it done right, get him well and then make those kinds of decisions,” Garrett said. “Typically doctors will give you a timetable and you see what’s reasonable and you make your best roster move.”