Lee suffered the injury in the third quarter of the Cowboys' 19-14 win over Carolina. A second MRI revealed significant damage in his big right toe. He has the most severe case of turf toe with a complete tear. He underwent surgery to correct the damage and is expected to be sidelined for three to four months, ready for offseason practices in February.
The defensive co-captain was replaced by veteran linebacker Ernie Sims. Sims, 27, played in 13 games last year with Indianapolis with four starts and totaled 32 tackles. Running back Felix Jones had similar surgery in 2008 and has been problem free.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was optimistic that his team can be a Super Bowl contender- but not this year, next year. He believes Lee to be irreplaceable.
"That's a setback. The old adage that it gives someone else a chance to show what they've got doesn't necessarily apply here because he's a proven difference-maker out there," said Jones.
"I've said all along I think this team has an opportunity to be a contender, but the one exception that I made was... sitting as we're sitting right now health-wise, injury can make a difference and does in the NFL," said Jones. The Cowboys have also been dealing with the foot injury of running back DeMarco Murray.
Lee has had a difficult time staying healthy in his career. His 2011 season was cut short by a dislocated left wrist, and missed part of the 2010 season with a hamstring injury. Before his injury, he was leading the Cowboys in tackles with 77 in the first six games, two for loss, eight quarterback pressures, one interception, two pass deflections, and a forced fumble.
He's trying to remain positive though. "You have to be positive because if you're negative you're not going to get any better. As frustrating as it is, there's no getting around it."
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