FRISCO, Texas -- With Sean Lee likely to miss at least the next two games if not three because of a hamstring strain, Anthony Hitchens is ready to do an impersonation of the Dallas Cowboys' defensive leader.
Hitchens will move from middle linebacker to the weak side, as he did when Lee missed two games earlier in the season.
The Cowboys have been a different defense without Lee. They gave up 35 points in losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers without him in October. They gave up all 27 points without him last week against the Atlanta Falcons.
“Communication is huge, getting the guys lined up, and I'm going to be the guy making the calls if he’s out,” Hitchens said. “I’ll just try my best to imitate him and get everyone lined up. He's going to help me throughout the week. At the end of the day, if he's out, I've got to step up and play the Sean Lee role.”
There might be one exception.
“I try to shy away from the bad words,” Hitchens said. “But sometimes it comes out, you know? But then I have someone to blame for that.”
Hitchens has been credited by the coaches with 36 tackles and five tackles for loss. Against the Falcons, he had a season-high 10 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss and was among the few defensive bright spots in the loss.
With Hitchens moving to weakside linebacker, the Cowboys will go with Justin Durant and Jaylon Smith at middle linebacker. Lee might not be on the field Sunday and moving forward, but Hitchens will use him as a resource.
There is a big difference from the weakside and middle linebacker spots even if they are separated by a yard or two on the field.
"Every play you're keying a guy, you're keying a tight end, keying a running back,” Hitchens said. “It's just different plays and different positions where your eyes are. Throughout the week, I've just got to work with Sean if he's not playing and ask him, ‘What does he see on this play or this formation?’”