The Cowboys don’t have DeMarco Murray, but they do have Joseph Randle. Owner Jerry Jones believes Randle can do what Murray did last year, with help from Darren McFadden.
“We feel that in Randle we have a player who has the potential – and we base that not based on what he did at Oklahoma State or how we drafted him, but by literally being with him as a teammate around here for the last two years,” Jones said. “He has the potential to be the kind of back that would step in there and be a No. 1 back. If he were not here, then I wouldn’t feel as good as we go into the season about what might happen.
“Then I’m going to look over there at McFadden, because McFadden does have the potential – the potential – with the right numbers of carries and the right opportunity, he has the potential to be not only a steady back, but a steady back that makes significant plays. To some degree, that’s the kind of back – if you add those two together – that we had in Murray. I think these guys, when you add potential, they give you some of that same potential, both physically as well as their opportunity and their experience to get us there. McFadden is an experienced back. Randle is not as experienced, but he’s got a chance to get in and use some, I think, very instinctive, natural running back qualities to have us give the position give us everything it can give us.”
The Cowboys ended up with 508 running plays and 506 passing plays last season, with Murray carrying the ball a league-leading 392 times. But Murray departed for Philadelphia as a free agent in the off-season, leaving the Cowboys to trust in Randle and sign McFadden, the No. 4 overall pick in 2008.
They also have Lance Dunbar, a third-down back who likely gets a share of the carries as the Cowboys use a running-back-by-committee approach.
“Obviously, part of the recipe for our success last year was to be strong in the running game and our offensive line and you ask why we’re a little bit optimistic about the running game, it starts up front with the offensive line,” vice president Stephen Jones said. “I think we did things to improve ourselves in the offseason in that area. We believe the offensive line will be improved, and I think it is a big part of what we’re about, and I think what coach [Jason] Garrett wants our team to be about. …It’s obviously a priority for us, and something that we will continue to push. But at the same time, it’s certainly nice to have a quarterback like Tony Romo who can do some things there if they want to stack up there against us against the run. When you got guys like Romo, [Jason] Witten and Dez [Bryant] sitting out there, you certainly can’t ignore those guys.”
In two seasons, Randle has 105 carries for 507 yards and five touchdowns. In seven seasons, McFadden has 1,038 carries for 4,247 yards and 25 touchdowns. In three seasons, Dunbar has 80 carries for 324 yards and no touchdowns, with 31 catches for 309 yards and no touchdowns.
Dallas waived/injured Ryan Williams on the eve of training camp. The Cowboys have not ruled out signed a veteran running back, but they want to see Randle, Dunbar and McFadden first.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760