OXNARD, Calif. — The Cowboys held out 24 players Thursday. Most were injured. Other healthy scratches like Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant made sense. But a healthy Lance Dunbar?It signals how big a role the Cowboys expect him to play this season.“Well, certainly we have a good feel for what he can do,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Saturday. “We just want to be selective with certain guys in preseason. DeMarco Murray did not play in the game. We felt the same way about Dunbar. As the preseason goes along, both those guys will get plenty of work. But he’s a very good football player. He shows us that whenever he gets a chance in practice here in training camp as he has when he has had game opportunities in the past. So as we go forward. he’ll definitely get some reps. We think he’s going to be a big part of our offense.”Dunbar has played in 21 games in two seasons, with 51 career carries for 225 yards. He seemingly could have used the preseason action.“I really wanted to play,” Dunbar said, adding he didn’t know why he was held out. “Like it was the first game, the first live game back, and I wanted to get back out there. And just to have fun. It’s fun to play football. It was a chance to play with my teammates and just show off your talents. I missed playing.”Dunbar, who is only 5-8, 191 pounds, hasn’t shown he can stay healthy. He landed on injured reserve with a knee injury last season.But the Cowboys are counting on Dunbar to help take the pressure off Murray this season.“You just try to put your mind and your heart into it, and you can do it,” Dunbar said. “I’ve been believing that my whole career. I can do anything I put my mind to. That’s what I try to do. I’m one of the smallest guys on the team, but I don’t play like that and try to prove everybody wrong.”Dunbar is expected to make his preseason debut this week against Baltimore.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean