Cowboys stay internal for Lee replacement

IRVING, Texas -- With middle linebacker Sean Lee out for the season because of a torn ACL, the Cowboys are using Justin Durant and Anthony Hitchens as possible replacements.

There are options on the free-agent market, but for now, the Cowboys are trying internal replacements.

"No, I'm not confident," owner Jerry Jones said about what he has on the roster at that position. "But there is a good chance we will be able to stay within the personnel we've got, but I don't want to preclude anything because a lot of the evaluation of where we are there is going on right now as well as when we get to training camp. It also has to do with any circumstances that may come up away from the team. All of that is a given. If we had to play with the players we've got, I feel good that we could line up against San Francisco."

Lee was hurt on the first day of the organized team activities last month and has already undergone surgery. Team officials refuse to rule Lee out for the season because a roster move isn't needed at this stage of the offseason and there is a slim chance he could return late in the 2014 season.

With Lee gone, the Cowboys are mixing and matching several players at different linebacker spots.

"It's disappointing to lose any key player out there, but certainly he's a very key player for us," Jones said of Lee. "But we've had to get used to playing without him, so I can't say it's a complete shocker that we're going to be lining up the first part of the season and playing without him because we have had in our plans for the last several years, what if you lose a guy like him in the middle of the season or down near the end of the season. As much as we'll miss him, we'll go on and I'm confident we're going to line up and do well at our linebacker (position), one way or the other. I don't have the answers on how we're going to get there. Some of it is going to have to develop with some of these guys who are here and how they progress in training camp."