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Sean Lee (neck) won't play against Green Bay Packers

The Dallas Cowboys' struggling defense will be without its anchor Sunday.

NFL Media's Desmond Purnell reported Friday that middle linebacker Sean Lee will not play against the Green Bay Packers due to a lingering neck strain suffered during Monday's loss to the Chicago Bears.

Lee said an MRI taken on Thursday revealed he is dealing with more than a muscular issue. He sat out practice Friday and admitted he's unsure when he might again see the field.

"There's no gray area," Lee said on KRLD-FM on Friday (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). "I kind of have to let it heal for me to be able to even do my job. I wouldn't probably be able to make it through the game until I let it heal. Hopefully it can heal up faster, and we'll look at it next week. Hopefully it will look a lot better."

It's a disappointing development for a Dallas team that had been previously confident that Lee would be able to avoid missing more time. ESPN reported Tuesday that Lee had been experiencing numbness and soreness in the area, but the team expected that a week of treatment would allow Lee to play.

Instead, Lee will watch from the sideline. He was injured in his first game back after missing two weeks with a strained hamstring. Durability has become a concern for the linebacker, who has yet to play a full 16-game season since entering the league in 2010.

In fact, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Lee's contract is tied to health. Lee has to play in at least 80 percent of the defensive snaps in 2013 or 2014 to see a pay raise in 2015, according to the report.

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"(It's) obviously an extremely frustrating deal being that I've continuously been on and off the field," Lee said. "The plan is to rest and hopefully reevaluate early next week. Early in the week I was getting better and feeling healthier and healthier, so that's why I was gung-ho on being ready to play this week."

It all sounds more than a little bit ominous. This was not a subplot the Cowboys had hoped to encounter as they attempt to avoid another December nose dive.

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