Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys release back Ryan Williams, add SFA rookie Gus Johnson

Former Stephen F. Austin standout Gus Johnson had 21 100-yard rushing games and six 200-rushing yard games in his career.
Former Stephen F. Austin standout Gus Johnson had 21 100-yard rushing games and six 200-rushing yard games in his career. SFA Athletics.

OXNARD, Calif. Ryan Williams is no longer an option to join a likely running back committee the Dallas Cowboys will use this season, as the organization released him Tuesday.

Williams, who spent all of last season on the practice squad, underwent two arthroscopic knee operations this off-season, including one following minicamp in June.

Williams had an impressive preseason for the Cowboys last year, but was never promoted to the 53-man roster. Still, they liked him enough to keep him on the practice squad and hand him a two-year deal with a $240,000 signing bonus earlier this off-season.

Williams was expected to join the running back competition, along with Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar. The Cowboys now seem content with Randle, McFadden and Dunbar, and will also give newly-signed Stephen F. Austin rookie Gus Johnson a look.

The Cowboys are not actively pursuing free agent backs for the time being, according to a source.

Ray Rice, a three-time Pro Bowl back, is not of interest as the team doesn't want to take on another player with a domestic violence issue as they already have Greg Hardy on the roster.

Another three-time Pro Bowler who has been linked to the Cowboys -- Chris Johnson -- also doesn't seem to be the right fit. The Cowboys are interested in a more physical runner than Johnson, according to a source.

But, the source said, "Never know what will happen in a couple weeks."

Johnson, who was brought in by the Cowboys last month for a three-day tryout, was signed by the team on Thursday of last week and the contract was made official once Johnson passed his physical Monday at Valley Ranch.

Johnson originally was signed by the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent following the 2015 NFL Draft before being released by the club. He finished his SFA career with 3,907 yards and 51 touchdowns on 631 carries. He was the 2014 Southland Conference player of the year, setting a school record with 23 touchdowns.

Johnson, a Gilmer native, had 21 100-yard rushing games and six 200-yard performances, both of which are tops all-time in program history.

Outside of the running back transactions, the Cowboys also released linebacker Cameron Lawrence, a special teams contributor the past two seasons, and offensive tackle Ryan Miller.

Along with Johnson, they signed linebacker Justin Anderson and center Ronald Patrick.