Unfortunately for Lee, there’s only so much control he has over the situation.
His health issues have been the most frustrating part of the season for Lee, whose individual excellence hasn’t prevented the Cowboys from ranking dead last in total defense. He spent virtually every waking minute rehabilitating from a strained hamstring that caused him to miss two games, only to sprain his neck on his first snap against the Chicago Bears in Monday night’s lopsided loss.
“I have to find a way to stay out there, and I’ve said that over and over again,” said Lee, whose contract that he signed before the season includes significant incentives tied to playing time. “For me, that’s the most frustrating part. I want to be out there in the worst way and I continuously seem to have issues not being on the field.”
Lee, who slipped to the second round of the 2010 draft because of a serious knee injury that sidelined him for a season at Penn State, leads the Cowboys in tackles (121), tackles for losses (five) and interceptions (four) despite missing two entire games and much of two others this season. He has missed 15 games due during his four-year NFL career. Injuries to his quadriceps, thumb, toe and hamstring have caused him to be inactive.
Lee left the loss to the Bears early after his neck locked up repeatedly, but he plans to play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. He’s experimenting with different neck rolls this week to help protect him.
Until Sunday, Lee will do everything he can to get his body as healthy as possible. After kickoff, however, Lee won’t try to protect himself.
“You can’t worry about it because if I do, it’ll change the way I play and I can’t be as effective,” Lee said. “So you go out there and let it rip and hope [injury] doesn’t happen. It is what it is. If you hesitate, you can’t be the player you want to be.”