The Cowboys’ decision not to draft a running back wasn’t just about their faith in the running backs on their roster, including Darren McFadden. It also said a lot about their offensive line.
The Cowboys insist that they can run the ball as effectively – and as often -- as they did last season when DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing. The best offensive line in football gives them that confidence.
“I think it’s little bit of faith in us,” center Travis Frederick said. “But I think it’s also faith in the guys we have in our running back stable now. It’s a really good group of guys. I’m really excited to watch them run, especially run together. It’s kind of a three-headed monster. LD [Lance Dunbar] is so quick and shifty with those crazy cuts. And obviously Darren [McFadden] is in there, and he’s a difference-maker. And it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to get a chance to block for those three.”
The Cowboys drafted three offensive linemen in the first round since 2011, taking left tackle Tyron Smith, Frederick and right guard Zack Martin. All three made the Pro Bowl last season.
They were a big part of the Cowboys’ success running the ball last season. Dallas ran the ball 508 times. It called 506 passing plays. That aided a defense that ranked as the third-worst in NFL history in 2013 but moved up to 19th overall last year.
But Murray, who led the league with 392 carries for 1,845 yards, departed for Philadelphia in free agency. That leaves Dunbar, McFadden, Randle, Ryan Williams and rookie free agent Synjyn Days of Georgia Tech to compete for roster spots, playing time and carries.
Martin said he understands the questions about the team’s running game but also has faith the Cowboys can get it done by a committee without Murray.
“Obviously, it was a big loss,” Martin said of Murray. “He was such a great player and such a great teammate. But I think everyone in the organization has faith in the guys we have, and I know as an offensive line we have all the faith in the world in them. Getting to know Darren and kind of knowing his history, we know he’s a big-time player, so it’s exciting to go in fresh this season and kind of learn how we’re going to gel together.”