Cowboys HC Jason Garrett told reporters Monday that he expects LB Sean Lee to return to limited practice this week. The last time Lee did so this season (also off a hamstring injury), he returned to game action that weekend. Should Lee be ready to face the Colts this Sunday, Dallas coaches would need to decide how he fits back in. Rookie Leighton Vander Esch has filled in for Lee on the weak side, and the defense has played well. Jerry Jones said last week on 105.3 The Fan in Texas that Lee would "rotate" in with Smith and Vander Esch when he returned. Let's just hope we get a clear picture of the plan before the weekend so that we can set our IDP lineups accordingly.
The Cowboys will start Anthony Hitchens at MLB and Sean Lee on the weak side Sunday against the 49ers, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. That means 2nd-year LB Jaylon Smith will return to a reserve role. The Dallas plan had reportedly been to bring Smith along slowly in his 1st season of on-field action, but Hitchens' August knee fracture and Lee's recent hamstring injury forced him to play more snaps and make the defensive calls. “I don’t see a lot of physical limitations,” DC Rod Marinelli said this week. “It’s just a lot for a young guy, a rookie, coming in at that position. It’s a lot and the communication and all the things you have — close calls, adjustments — it can wear you out as you go. It’s a lot to it.” Smith remains interesting long term. Hitchens' contract runs out after this season, so we could see the youngster back in the middle to open 2018. But Smith is safe to drop in redraft IDP leagues.
Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Thursday that rookie LB Jaylon Smith won't open this season on IR. "We'll take a chance he'll be back for the playoffs," Jones said. (A snarkier writer might ask why that would matter for a Cowboy, but we'll skip that here.) Realistically, it's tough to imagine the team getting significant contributions at that point from a rookie who has spent the whole season on the sideline. IDP owners still shouldn't expect Smith to factor into 2016 redraft fantasy football leagues. He'll be worth a shot in dynasty rookie drafts, however.
Ian Rapoport reports that Cowboys OLB Sean Lee had minor knee surgery on Friday, "a cleanup scope." Lee's only expected to need 2 weeks of recovery time. Any time a player goes under the knife is noteworthy, especially when said player has the checkered medical history of Lee. But this doesn't seem like it should affect his 2016 status. We'll keep an eye on Lee's readiness this summer. Lee is signed through 2019, but the cap numbers make it possible that the team could decide to dump him in either of the final 2 seasons if his body breaks down further. Dallas just spent a 2nd-round pick on LB Jaylon Smith, whose ideal fit seems to be on the weak side in a 4-3 setup.
The Cowboys reached out to draft former Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith with the 3rd pick of the 2nd round in the NFL Draft. It was a surprising move for a guy with serious questions about the knee that he injured in his final college game. But Dallas' team doctor did the surgery, so the Cowboys should know at least as well as any team what to expect. Fantasy football owners should not expect Smith to play in 2016, but his talent will be worth a shot at least starting late in the 2nd round of dynasty rookie drafts in IDP leagues. Smith projects as a weak-side LB optimally but can play anywhere in Dallas' 3-LB alignment. At full health, he can deliver both in coverage and pass rushing.