ARLINGTON -- The Dallas Cowboys welcomed a new player to their team Tuesday. And kicker Shayne Graham wasn't the only new face.
Rookie running back DeMarco Murray practiced for the first time since the Cowboys drafted him in the third round.
"He had his jersey on this morning and was involved in the walk-through on a kickoff, and I looked at him and said, 'Wow. Who is this guy?'" Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "As coaches you're excited to see these guys."
The Cowboys have been practicing without two of their top three running backs. Murray missed the first 20 practices with an injured hamstring, and Tashard Choice injured his calf in the first practice July 28.
Choice returned Tuesday, too, making practice a little more spirited.
Murray and Choice are competing for playing time behind Felix Jones.
"It's always a good competition with runners, because you're based on what you do when you carry the ball," running backs coach Skip Peete said.
"You gain yards or you don't gain yards. It's very simple. So it'll be interesting to see how they do this coming week."
Phillip Tanner and Lonyae Miller got more reps while Choice and Murray were rehabbing. But it's Choice and Murray the Cowboys are counting on to help carry the load now that Marion Barber is in Chicago.
Choice, who is in his fourth season, has teased the Cowboys with a handful of big games and several big runs. He had a three-game stretch in 2008 when he gained 269 yards and scored two touchdowns on 49 carries. He had a 36-yard touchdown run against Kansas City in 2009.
But the Cowboys have made it clear Choice's blocking and his special teams play needed to improve.
"Now is a time for me to get over the hump," Choice said. "People are tired of seeing little spurts. 'He is good enough, but why ain't he playing?'
"What else have I heard? He can't block. He can't play special teams. I've heard a lot. That is fine. I'm just going to go out and work. I'm going to prove my worth, and be the best Tashard I can be. That's all I'm going to do."
The Cowboys know less about Murray. They know he set the OU record for all-purpose yards with 6,948. They know he had 64 career touchdowns, also a school record.
They have two weeks to figure out how much he can help.
"We had a chance to study him before the draft, and we see what kind of player he was coming out of college," Peete said. "Today, he looked like a relaxed, comfortable player. It wasn't like he was nervous when he got in there. He looked fine. The biggest thing is it's different hearing the play called in the huddle than it is in a meeting.... They call it and now you've got to get out there and react and do it."
Murray said he knows the playbook, but now he has to execute at game speed. But, on Tuesday, he was "just happy to be here."
"It's definitely been hard, been a struggle," said Murray, who missed five games in college with three different leg injuries. "But my teammates picked me up and let me know it's going to be OK, and just let me realize, hey, this is a marathon and not a sprint. So just take care of yourself and get back here 100 percent healthy."