Dallas Cowboys Position Reviews: Linebackers
When healthy Sean Lee has the inside covered, but the Cowboys need to shore up the outside at linebacker’s
By Matthew Postins
Cowboys 2013 Position Review: Linebacker
RattleandHumSports.com is breaking down every position group for the 2013 Dallas Cowboys. Today it’s the linebackers.
Linebackers: Sean Lee (starter), Justin Durant (starter – ended season on IR), Bruce Carter (starter), DeVonte Holloman (backup), Cameron Lawrence (backup), Orie Lemon (backup), Ernie Sims (backup), Martez Wilson (backup).
Other notable players: none.
In 2013: Sean Lee was the Sean Lee we all know – when he was healthy. Despite missing five games in 2013, Lee finished as the Cowboys’ third-leading tackler (99) and its leader in interceptions (4). The Cowboys signed Lee to a long-term extension, and the only thing holding Lee back from being a Pro Bowl or All-Pro selection is his health. He was unquestionably the Cowboys’ best linebacker and a great fit in the middle of the 4-3. Bruce Carter had an up-and-down year on the weak side. Carter mixed some nice games with some real groaners, none worse than the San Diego loss in which Danny Woodhead beat Carter twice for touchdown receptions. At one time Carter was benched for quality of play, but eventually regained the job, thanks in part to injuries. Durant was solid, but not spectacular, on the strong side. But he was missed in the season finale after a hamstring injury ended his season. Of the backups, Ernie Sims had the best season and proved valuable when called upon to play in the middle or outside. DeVonte Holloman showed promise in his week 17 start against Philadelphia, leading the team in tackles and notching two sacks. But that’s a small sample size to expect Holloman to suddenly become a full-time starter. Plus, he battled a neck injury for much of the season. Orie Lemon was signed late in the season for depth because he had been with the Cowboys in 2012. Cameron Lawrence was more valuable on special teams than at linebacker.
Looking ahead: If Lee is healthy, the middle is not a concern. But that’s the problem. Lee has never made it through a full season without an injury. Lee is an All-Pro season waiting to happen if he makes it through 16 games. Carter didn’t seem to grow as much as the Cowboys expected in 2013, so there may be some pressure applied to him in terms of his play. The mental part of the game appears to be a bit of a challenge to him right now. Durant is solid, but Holloman’s progress is worth watching. Durant might only be a placeholder for the sixth-round pick. The Cowboys should work to bring Sims back for his versatility. If the Cowboys make a move here, it will be to bring in a player to push Carter on the weak side or another developmental pick to work in as cheap depth.
Next up: Defensive Tackle