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Cowboys lose leading tackler Lee to toe injury

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Cowboys lose leading tackler Lee to toe injury

IRVING, Texas (AP) Dallas Cowboys coaches won't be talking to linebacker Sean Lee through his helmet mic anymore this season.

Instead, he might be in their ears all the time on the sideline.

Lee is out for the rest of the season with ligament damage in his right big toe, an injury that will require surgery. Coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday an MRI showed the extent of the damage and the team's leading tackler and on-the-field defensive coordinator was placed on injured reserve. He will have surgery in about a week.

Lee was injured in the second half of last weekend's 19-14 win against Carolina, and he was already donning a headset before the game ended.

``I remember seeing him on the head phones on the sidelines,'' said his replacement, Dan Connor, an offseason pickup in free agency. ``He was really coaching out there. There's no reason why he shouldn't.''

It's not the first time Lee has been sidelined by a significant injury. He missed a year with a torn knee ligament at Penn State, and he could have missed a significant stretch last year with a dislocated wrist. He ended up sitting for a game and a half before coming back and playing the rest of the season with a cast.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Lee didn't want to believe he needed season-ending surgery this time, but ultimately knew better.

``He has such an intensity about him,'' Garrett said. ``He said, `You know, I'm not getting down. I'm ready to go I'm going be part of this football team and we're going to get this thing fixed. I'll be back before you know it.'''

The Cowboys moved up in the draft to take Lee in the second round in 2010, and he was still available in part because of his history with injuries. He started 15 games last year, finishing with 105 tackles and tying for the team lead with four interceptions. He had 58 tackles in six games this year and another interception.

``I can't tell you how well he's been playing since he's been our starting inside linebacker,'' Garrett said. ``He's a bell cow for us and a guy that really everybody on our defense and football team looks up to.''

Connor will replace Lee as a starter heading into Sunday's home game against the Giants, but the Cowboys signed veteran linebacker Ernie Sims, who played 13 games last year for Indianapolis. Bruce Carter, the other Dallas starter at inside linebacker, will call most of the defensive signals.

``It's something that definitely stings when you lose your middle linebacker, but at the end of the day, they're not going to cancel or postpone the games because Sean Lee got hurt,'' defensive end Marcus Spears said. ``You don't have time to dwell on it.''

The Cowboys are fourth in the NFL in total defense and made two key stops in the fourth quarter at Carolina to help Dallas rally from a 14-13 deficit. Garrett showed faith in the defense by running on third-and-9 to set up the go-ahead field goal with still 3:25 remaining.

Garrett made that decision after the injury to Lee, who also missed two games his rookie season with a hamstring problem.

``This is not new,'' Garrett said. ``This has happened a lot. And you rally around it. Sean Lee's the kind of guy that will stay engaged in our football team, and we appreciate that about him.''

Dallas also put punter Chris Jones on injured reserve and signed safety Charlie Peprah. The Cowboys added linebacker Jerry Brown to the practice squad a week after he was let go by Indianapolis.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

It's almost here.

After a lengthy break between the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are set to meet on Monday for Game 1.

Who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir give their keys to the series and their predictions for the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, JJ speaks with several member from the local media to get their insights and predictions.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 27, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Here is my sunrise view from this morning:

Looking at next year’s free agents

This post was originally published on March 18. 

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens. 

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard). 

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility. 

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon. 

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup. 

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight. 

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler