Lee Welcomes Second Chance Nick Eatman DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer June 29, 2004, 5:33 p.m. (CDT) IRVING, Texas -- There are a handful of players who do it every year. They arrive no more than obscure rookies penciled is as camp bodies, and out of nowhere they start turning heads, and end up with a real shot of making the team. ReShard Lee was one of those players last year. The undrafted running back from Middle Tennessee State was better known for his since-cut, long-flowing dreadlocks than his football prowess when he arrived at Valley Ranch following the draft. But it didn't take long in training camp for Lee to make a name for himself; to work himself into the rotation in less than two weeks and give himself a chance of making the Cowboys' 53-man roster, if not a spot on the practice squad. Lee, though, suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee during the second preseason game, and as Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells has repeatedly pointed out, rookies, especially undrafted ones, can't get hurt during camp. Lee's dream of making it in the NFL instantly died, getting released though an injury settlement on the cut to 60. But he had shown the Cowboys enough to get re-signed in December to the practice squad, ensuring him another chance of making club this year. And Lee vows to make the most of his second shot. In an interview conducted for DallasCowboys.com, Lee talks about coming back from the injury, re-gaining his speed, his newfound appreciation for special teams and even his golf game, if you can believe that. Can you talk about your knee injury last year and if you're feeling any effects of the injury? LEE:My knee is fine. I went through off-season rehab during the year last year. It hasn't been a problem. It feels pretty good. Just how difficult was it for you to start off well last year and then have it end with the injury in training camp? LEE:It was heartbreaking for me - real tough. I'm used to playing and always being a part of the team. And just sitting out all last year, it wasn't easy to get into something, have it start out good, and then have it taken away from you. But I'm looking forward to this year. Do you like your role in the offense right now and the amount of reps you were given in this last mini-camp? LEE:I don't have a problem with how it's going right now - with the reps. I'm just here to play ball. When I get in, I try to do the best I can. When I'm not, I just try to pay attention and see what's going. When Troy Hambrick was released in May, did it change your attitude and give you more hope that you would have a better chance to compete. LEE:No, not really. My game plan hasn't changed. I was coming in here to compete, whether (Hambrick) was here or without him. Whoever is here, I'm going to compete with them. That's what I'm here to do. I can't worry about anybody else and what they're doing. In just one year in the NFL, have you gained a better appreciation for special teams? LEE: Yeah, I really have. Special teams is more important now than I ever paid attention to. I never really focused on special teams before. I did kickoff return in high school and some in college, but doing it here is different. Special teams is different here. So you're not used to running down and tackling people? LEE:No, no way. I never even played any defense. When is the last time you tackled someone? LEE:Never (laughs). I was a quarterback in high school. I didn't play running back until I got to college. Are there any differences heading into this year's camp, compared to last year as a true rookie? LEE:Well, I feel a lot faster this year. I lost 14 pounds since last year. Just in the off-season program and working out. My feet are just moving a lot faster than they ever have. You don't seem too worried about where you stand on the depth chart. Will that just all work itself out in training camp? LEE:Yeah, I think so. I'm used to competing. The better the competition, the better I'll be. I think I'm going to be three times better than I was last year. Hopefully, they'll see what I'm doing, and I'll play. If there was one thing you wanted to improve coming into this year, what would that be? LEE:The mental part of the game, really. I'm figuring out this game is more mental than physical. That's what (Coach Parcells) tells us all the time: Be mentally tough. That's what I try to work on and continue to work on. You have to study your playbook and cut down on mental errors. If you can do that, you can be a step ahead of everyone else. It looks like football is not the only sport you can play. Talk about how you got into playing so much golf? LEE:My dad taught me how to play golf. He used to take me golfing ever since I was a little boy. I just like it. It's fun to go out and play all day. It's just relaxing. And tell us about your hole-in-one you hit just a few weeks ago in George Teague's golf tournament here in Dallas? LEE:There was about 10 of us standing up there by the hole. When we saw it go in, we just all started running up to the green. I couldn't believe it. I'll probably never that ever again. But that was fun.