Panic mode is fully engaged amongst the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff and fanbase, after starting linebacker Sean Lee was taken out during the first day of OTAs with an apparent tear of the ACL.
Zack Martin, a coveted 2014 first round selection out of Notre Dame, was leading the way one a routine screen play during Tuesday's organized team activities when Lee was approaching to break up the play. Just prior to colliding with Martin, Lee apparently slipped and tore the anterior crucial ligament in his left knee, effectively ending his 2014 season.
Lee is the heart of the Cowboys' defense but also has a long history of injury. While playing collegiality at Penn State, he tore his right ACL in 2008 and then partially tore his ACL in 2009. After being drafted by the Cowboys, Lee missed two games during his rookie season in 2010 with a hamstring injury, one game in 2011 with a dislocated wrist, ten games in 2012 with a toe injury and five games in 2013. Even with his battle against injury, the Cowboys locked up their star linebacker in 2013 with a six-year extension, worth up to $51 million. Ultimately the Cowboys have to be left wondering if they'll ever get a full season out of their biggest defensive investment.
The question is "Who's the next man up?" That man could very easily former Gamecock safety/linebacker DeVonte Holloman. Holloman was selected in the sixth round of the 2013 draft and converted to a full-time linebacker.
In spot duty, Holloman saw action at the middle linebacker position during his rookie campaign. He rotated into all three linebacker positions, in a back-up role and collected 26 combined tackles, to go with two sacks and one fumble recovery in nine games played.
Holloman made a splash in his first professional appearance when the Cowboys played the Dolphins in the annual Hall of Fame game. Holloman picked off Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore and took it 75 yards to the house.
During his time with the Gamecocks, Holloman proved his versatility while beginning his career at the safety position, while eventually evolving into the hybrid safety/linebacker SPUR position. In his four years at South Carolina, Holloman amassed 142 career tackles, along with seven interceptions, three forced fumbles and two sacks.
Now a full-time linebacker with the Cowboys, a good performance in camp and in the preseason could land Holloman a starting position in the Cowboys linebacking unit. Holloman will be competing against veteran linebackers Ernie Sims and Justin Durant, along with 2014 fourth round selection Anthony Hitchens from Iowa.