It’s an understatement to say running back Joseph Randle had a disappointing rookie year.
He was picked in the sixth round in 2013, but the Cowboys had a much higher grade on him.
Randle was suppose to come in last year as not only the primary backup to starter DeMarco Murray, but one who could also split carries with him.
Randle, however, came to the Cowboys with a wrist injury that kept him out until training camp and never got on solid footing.
His maturity was an issue in team meetings and learning the NFL game in regards to blitz pickups and being a disciplined runner. He got just 54 carries for 164 yards on the season.
Need a reason the Cowboys signed veteran Ryan Williams? It was because of the uncertainty surrounding Randle.
Randle understood as much and came to training camp hoping show that he has matured and can be trusted. His efforts got a big boost with an impressive performance in the preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers Thursday night.
With Murray and backup Lance Dunbar held out, Randle got the bulk of the load, rushing 13 times for 50 yards.
But just as impressive as his running was a blitz pickup he had on a second quarter TD pass and a tackle on special teams.
“It was good to see Joseph get those opportunities,” coach Jason Garrett said. “I think he had close to 14 or 15 carries. He’s really done an excellent job since the start of training camp. He’s grown a lot since he’s been with us. I thought he was decisive running the football, putting his foot in the ground and getting up the field. It looks like he saw the field well, saw the holes, saw the soft spots and got north and south. I thought he had a real good night. I think he made a tackle on special teams as well. I think you’re seeing him grow and mature right before our eyes.”
Randle understands his job is on the line. He said he has worked hard on his blitz pickup and putting his foot down to run north and south.
Most of all he said it was important that he play well against the Chargers.
“It was very important because I’m supposed to be pushing my way for more playing time and trying to find a role on this team,” Randle said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.
“I was prepared for whatever. It is the preseason, I knew I was going to get a lot of work, and I was just trying to make the most of it.”