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Three former Cowboys selected Hall of Fame semifinalists

Darren Woodson joined Jimmy Johnson and Charles Haley on the semifinal list for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It is the first time Woodson has made the initial cut. Johnson became a semifinalist for the first time last year.

Haley, a defensive end for the Cowboys and the 49ers, made the semifinal list for the 10th time. He is a five-time finalist.

Woodson, who played for the Cowboys from 1992-2003, earned five Pro Bowl selections and three times was an All-Pro. He won three Super Bowls.

Only five pure safeties are in Canton, but safeties John Lynch and Steve Atwater also made the list of semifinalists.

The selection committee reduced the ballot from 113 to 26, with a tie for the final spot. Receiver Torry Holt, receiver Isaac Bruce, cornerback Ty Law, offensive tackle Orlando Pace, running back Edgerrin James, offensive lineman Kevin Mawae, linebacker Junior Seau and quarterback Kurt Warner were the first-year eligible candidates to make the cut.

Selectors will reduce the modern-era candidates to 15 by mail ballot, with an announcement of the finalists Jan. 8. They will join the two previously announced contributor candidates — Bill Polian and Ron Wolf — as well as seniors candidate Mick Tingelhoff on the final ballot.

Selectors will elect the Class of 2015 at their annual selection meeting Jan. 31, the day before Super Bowl XLIX. It takes 80 percent positive vote from the selection committee for induction into the Hall of Fame.

Rules stipulate that between four and eight new members are selected each year.

Murray’s load

Running back DeMarco Murray’s role in the Cowboys offense might get even bigger down the stretch.

Murray, who leads the league with 1,233 yards on 244 carries with seven touchdowns, is ready to put the Cowboys on his back and carry them to the finish line.

“I’m ready,” Murray said Monday. “Like I’ve said before, whatever they ask me to do I’m going to do it times 10. It’s going to be an exciting next couple of weeks for us.”

With four of the final six games on the road in cold weather locales, the Cowboys will lean on the NFL’s leading rusher even more. He knows as much and is ready to go.

Murray never had more than 217 carries in a season before 2014.

“When you don’t play on Sunday, you don’t take hits and you always feel better,” Murray said. “But I have been feeling great all year. I just have to continue doing my routine.”

Free agent talk

The Cowboys have more than a dozen key players who become free agents after this season. A number of them — DeMarco Murray, Bruce Carter, Dez Bryant, Dwayne Harris — have lockers on the same row.

Carter is in the final year of his rookie deal, which pays him $986,991.

Carter wants to stay in Dallas, which made him a second-round pick in 2011. But the Cowboys have a lot of off-season work to do with Doug Free, Rolando McClain, Anthony Spencer, George Selvie and Nick Hayden among others who are scheduled to hit the free agent market in 2015.

Injury updates

The Cowboys should be close to full strength when they play the Giants on Sunday night.

Linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford are “good to go,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said on his weekly KRLD-FM radio show Tuesday.

The only injury concern is cornerback Tyler Patmon, who injured his knee during the Nov. 9 game in London. His injury takes 2-4 weeks to recover.

Patmon knows he’ll miss this Sunday’s game, but didn’t know if he could be ready to play the following Thursday on Thanksgiving against the Philadelphia Eagles.


• The Cowboys are the only team left that is undefeated on the road.

• The Cowboys released guard Jeff Baca and linebacker Will Smith (Texas Tech) from the practice squad and signed linebacker Keith Smith and cornerback Robert Steeples to their practice squad Tuesday.

• Teams coming off a bye week are only 10-16 this season.

Charean Williams and Clarence E. Hill Jr. contributed to this report.