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Lockout analysis: Linebackers

7/4/2011

ESPNDallas is providing a daily breakdown on how the lockout has affected the individual position groups.

Position: Linebackers

Depth chart: DeMarcus Ware, Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Anthony Spencer, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Victor Butler, Brandon Williams, Kenwin Cummings, Isaiah Greenhouse, Kelvin Smith, Leon Williams

Not under contract: Leon Williams

Player hurt most by lockout: Carter

Player with most to gain: Lee

Analysis: The Cowboys drafted Carter in the second round knowing he was coming off reconstructive knee surgery, but they have not been able to get their hands on him since the draft.

While he could start training camp (whenever that is) on the physically unable to perform list, there is a hope he can play in the sub packages as well as on special teams as a rookie and grow into a starting role perhaps as soon as 2012. He has speed and instincts but he will have to become accustomed to taking on bigger players in the running game. Getting a head start on his rehab and his on-field experience in a normal offseason would have been much better.

As for Lee, he was also coming off knee surgery last year and struggled to find consistency as a rookie, in part because of nagging injuries that cropped up in camp. His two interceptions against Indianapolis showed he can be a playmaker. He is intelligent and athletic but can be too harsh on himself when he makes a mistake.

The plan this year is to rotate Lee, James and Brooking almost evenly at the inside linebacker spots to keep all three fresh.