The Cowboys didn’t take long in moving on from the troubled Joseph Randle.
One day after releasing Randle, partly due to personal problems and impending NFL discipline as well as a lack of production, the Cowboys signed former Texas A&M running back Trey Williams off the Washington Redskins’ practice squad.
The 5-foot-8, 195-pound Williams, an undrafted rookie, is more of a finesse back who could serve as a change of pace option as well as a returner on special teams.
"He’s a productive guy," coach Jason Garrett said. "He’s a smaller back but he’s almost small in stature more than he is a small guy. He’s got some thickness to him but a guy that I think has a good feel for playing the game. He has good quickness and explosiveness and he’s made some plays in a short period of time. You watch his tape from the preseason, we feel good about him. We liked him coming out of school and we just want to give him an opportunity."
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Williams rushed for 1,343 yards and 18 touchdowns in three years with the Aggies. He also caught 38 passes for 330 yards and a touchdown and averaged 24.1 yards per kick return.
Williams, who left Texas A&M after three seasons, called the move to the Cowboys a surprise and a dream come true. Although he grew up in the Houston suburb of Spring, he has been a Cowboys fan all his life.
“I was more than surprised. I can’t even explain it,” Williams said. “My agent called me and put my mom on the phone. We just pretty much cried together. This is it. Growing up as a little kid, this is my favorite team. I can only just give thanks to God and just keep giving my all. It’s never going to change.”
The Cowboys now have two former Texas A&M running backs on the roster, including Christine Michael, who was acquired in a trade with Seattle the opening week of the season.
Darren McFadden remains the starter at running back and will carry the load when the Cowboys face the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
McFadden took over from the departed Randle last week when things started spiraling out of control for the three-year veteran.
Among the issues facing Randle was finding out he faced discipline from the league under the personal conduct policy for his involvement in a domestic violence incident in Wichita, Kan., last spring. Randle expressed concerns about his girlfriend, calling police to his house Wednesday afternoon when he bolted from the facility, though they found nothing wrong.
The erratic behavior also included him talking about retiring and going into the ministry.
Randle spent most of last week away from the team facility, including meeting with team counselors as the Cowboys expressed concern for his mental health. He did not play in last Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks and was already ruled out for this week’s game against the Eagles when the Cowboys decided to cut him on Tuesday.
Garrett, who told Randle of the decision to release him via a phone call, said the move was in the best interest of the team and the player.
"I think, ultimately, you look at the body of work of a player and how he can help your football team," Garrett said. "Ultimately, every decision we make here is made in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys. No individual player or coach or anyone in our organization comes before that. That’s the guiding principle that we use and we just felt at this time it was most important for him to get some of the issues that he has in his personal life squared away and it was important for us as a football team to focus on the task at hand that we have going forward without him. We thought that was the right decision with our team."
Garrett said the Cowboys will continue to support Randle as he deals with his personal issues. But he left no room for a return or redemption. The Cowboys have moved on at running back with McFadden as the lead dog and now Williams as a member of the committee. Rodney Smith is the fourth back.
"Again, we think it’s most important for Joe to take care of some of these issues that he has away from football," Garrett said. "We felt it was the best thing for our football team going forward to do it without him. And that’s what we’re going to do. We feel good about the guys we have. We’re excited about the opportunity we have today to get ready for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday."
Williams has been given jersey No. 28.