Keith Brooking is here to stay

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The last time we saw Keith Brooking on the practice field, it was Day 2 of training camp when after intercepting a pass he pulled a hamstring while running down the field. He slammed his helmet down that day and still hasn't come back.

In Brooking's place is second-year inside linebacker Sean Lee, who has done an excellent job in practice and in the preseason opener by playing physical in terms of getting to the running back.

Lee's play raised a question about Brooking's future because he's in the last year of his deal and he turns 36 October 30.

"I think Brooking knows that he's a big part of our football team," coach Jason Garrett said. "The big thing with him simply is to get himself healthy. You talk about being obsessed, he's obsessed with that. I was in a defensive meeting [Sunday night] and in the middle of the meeting he got up, walked to the back of the room and started stretching. It's 9:30 at night. He just has that way about him and is the reason why he's so good."

Garrett said he reassured Brooking of his role with the team, and it's assumed to be a starting role with Lee coming off the bench.

Last year, Brooking battled a foot injury that forced him to wear a bigger shoe to relieve pressure. He still finished second on the team with 97 total tackles and third with 73 solo tackles.

"He understands it's a competitive business," Garrett said. "To make teams, to be starters on teams, to have a role on teams, he gets all that. But I believe he knows that he's going to be a part of what we're doing and he has a significant role on our football team."