OXNARD, Calif. -- It shouldn't come as a surprise that Sean Lee keeps making plays.
Lee, who has seven interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 35 career games, forced two turnovers in Friday’s practice. He jumped Phillip Tanner’s route in the flat for a pick-six in one-on-one drills and ripped the ball away from DeMarco Murray in team drills.
Lee is blessed with great instincts, but it’s too simplistic to say he simply has a knack for getting his hands on the ball. It’s hard work too.
“If you hustle and always try to put yourself around the ball, good things happen,” Lee said. “Secondly, if you study, know the defense and know how teams attack you, you can anticipate a little bit before the snap and put yourself in better position to make plays. I think it’s a combination of that and of just working hard and having a decent feel.”
Lee dropped 11 pounds, weighing in at 234 this year, because he wanted to be able to constantly run to the ball. He’ll also be asked to make deep drops in the Tampa 2, something he’s done well in camp, such as the time he ran step for step with receiver Miles Austin and broke up a pass on a seam route.
With Lee’s speed and ball skills, there are times he looks like a big safety, a position at which he starred at Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh. Brian Urlacher, one of the elite Tampa 2 middle linebackers of all time, also had a background at safety. The experience at that position helps Lee feel comfortable with his deep-coverage responsibilities in Monte Kiffin’s scheme.
“From a young age, I had to learn route combinations and angles to cut off things,” Lee said. “In high school, that’s really all I worked. I think having that background did help me in some ways. There’s certain situations where I’m going to have to run and cover a lot of ground. That’s something I’ve done in the past, and I enjoy it.”