Vander Esch suffered a neck injury in the Oct. 20 win against the Philadelphia Eagles and the hope was that the bye week would give him time to recover, but he continues to have soreness and range-of-motion issues. He went through three limited practices during the week but did not take any team snaps.
Officially, Vander Esch is listed as questionable.
Lee was credited by coaches with 11 tackles against Philadelphia and played a season-high 46 snaps -- the most he's played in a game since the 2018 season opener.
"Sean's played a lot of football for us at a very high level and is very smart," coach Jason Garrett said. "He's embraced his role up to this point this year, but one of his great strengths is his versatility and he can play different spots. Joe Thomas can play different spots as well. Those guys have been real positive factors for us up to this point. We're hopeful on Leighton, so we'll see how it goes the next couple of days."
Vander Esch, who is second on the defense in tackles (66), got hurt as he collided with Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert after he was pushed in the back, which put him in an awkward position. After the game, he said he felt fine and could have continued to play if he'd been allowed.
Instead, it is looking like he'll miss the first game of his career.