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Dallas Cowboys LBs Sean Lee, Bruce Carter on the mend

  • By Kevin Patra NFL.com
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After all but ignoring the defense in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys will be relying on key starters in their linebacking corps to be healthy as they transition into Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme.

The health of starters Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, who both suffered season-ending injuries last year before the calendar flipped to December, will be crucial to the early success of the switch.

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Lee missed 10 games in 2012 after suffering a severe turf toe injury in a week 7 win over the Carolina Panthers. He had offseason surgery to repair a torn ligament that resulted from the toe injury.

According to Lee, he'll be ready for offseason workouts.

"The toe's ready to go," Lee said Wednesday at a charity home run derby event, via DallasCowboys.com. "I'm pretty much 100 percent. I'll go through all the OTAs and it's getting better and better every week. Other than some soreness after practice, I'm pretty much 100 percent. They said you're going to feel that soreness all the way probably right before camp. So it's really progressing really well, and if I needed to play tomorrow, I could."

Carter, who dislocated his elbow on Thanksgiving Day, also plans to be prepared to take the field soon.

"My arm's great. Everything is back to normal," Carter said of his elbow. "I'm back to bench pressing, and I'm just ready to go."

The duo will play a key role as the Cowboys transition to a 4-3 defense. The depth in the front seven is questionable as players take on new positions. Last season's injuries left the Dallas defense hollowed out, needing to pick up players off the street (like linebacker Ernie Sims) just to get 11 men.

Starting the transformation process out healthy will play a huge role in the success of the thin unit in 2013.

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.

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