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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys fear linebacker Sean Lee needs season-ending surgery on his right big toe, according to sources.

Lee suffered a sprained right big toe in the third quarter of Sunday's win at Carolina and was on crutches on Monday. Coach Jason Garrett did not offer an update regarding Lee's status on Monday as he awaited results of an MRI.

After the game, Lee said he would be OK but he had a limp and had to wear his tennis shoes instead of dress shoes with his suit as he walked to the team bus.

The loss of Lee would be a huge blow to the Cowboys' defense.

Lee, who is one of the Cowboys' two defensive captains, is the team's leading tackler with 77 stops in the first six games, according to the coaches' film. He has two tackles for loss, eight quarterback pressures, one interception, two pass deflections and a forced fumble.

Dan Connor would replace Lee in the starting lineup, and he earned praise from Garrett for his work against the Panthers, which included a third-down stop of Cam Newton and a pass deflection, after taking over for Lee. Second-year linebacker Bruce Carter would become the defensive signal caller. The Cowboys have Orie Lemon and Alex Albright as backup inside linebackers on the 53-man roster but could look to add another inside linebacker.

Lee nearly needed season-ending surgery last year on a dislocated left wrist. He ended up missing only one game and played the rest of the season with a cast. He finished with a team-high 131 tackles and tied for the team lead with four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and eight tackles for loss.
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