Update: Murray didn't get the start but he scored the day's first touchdown, on a 91-yard run down the left sideline to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead over St. Louis.
IRVING -- This is the moment DeMarco Murray has been thinking about, a chance for heavy action in the NFL.
A high ankle sprain to Felix Jones means an opportunity to move into the starting lineup for the Cowboys' rookie.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett wouldn't say whether Murray, the former Oklahoma star drafted in the third round by the Cowboys in April, or four-year veteran Tashard Choice would start or get most of the carries today against the St. Louis Rams.
But it's almost certain that Murray will get more action than the 4.8 carries a game he has averaged through the first five weeks.
"I can't predict the future, so I didn't know when I was going to get the opportunity or when I would get more carries," he said. "I still don't know if I will or not. So we'll see come Sunday."
But Murray did predict this part of his future. He set his dreams on being an NFL player from an early age.
"Yeah, you can say that," he said. "That's why I worked so hard. High school to get to college. And then in college to get to the NFL. I'm here. I'm blessed to be here."
Murray obviously doesn't want to waste his chance, and the Cowboys don't want him to, either. In addition to handing him the ball, they also want to see if he can return a punt or two. He has already returned a kickoff.
His versatility is a value to the Cowboys, who have praised his pass-catching (although he did have a drop last week in the red zone at New England).
"Just want to keep giving him opportunities," Garrett said. "I think he'll get more and more comfortable in our offense. He missed a lot of time in the preseason, and add that to the time he missed because of the lockout. He's been behind. For him to integrate himself into the offense in the first month of the season and to get the opportunity he had [last week], I think it was a positive thing. You want to give him more opportunities."
Murray rushed 10 times for 32 yards, caught one pass for 7 yards and returned one kickoff for 22 yards against the Patriots. Garrett said Murray, who missed training camp and the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury, looked to be in his best rhythm of the season.
"I do agree with that," Murray said. "Not so much just the health issue, just being relaxed, just going out there and just playing football.... Trusting my ability. Trusting in my technique and just having fun, basically, when it all came down to it."
Murray is starting to feel comfortable with the NFL. He is making himself a leader for the young running backs, rookie free agent Phillip Tanner said.
"When he first came in, he was a real quiet guy, you know?" Tanner said. "But he's one of the guys, once you get to know him. He's a great guy to be around. He and I talk about stuff, plays -- he helps me out, I help him out."
Tanner, a small college player who looked up to Murray as a Big 12 star, said he counts on Murray's encouragement.
"We can look each other in the eye, when we're having a rough day or it's going to be an intense practice, we just dap each other up and say, 'Push through it. Let's get better today,'" Tanner said. "We challenge each other, even when we're tired, to keep going, to get better."
Murray's college quarterback, Sam Bradford, said Murray will handle whatever workload the Cowboys give him.
"Spending four years with him at Oklahoma, I saw everything he can do," Bradford said. "There's no doubt in my mind he can handle as much as they want to put on his plate."
Murray is ready to try. He's been expecting this opportunity.
"I know I'm ready," he said. "I'm not trying to show anybody outside of this locker room that I'm ready or not. I'm playing for myself and my teammates to get the win."
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407