Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys, Texans may be in the same running back boat

Philadelphia Eagles' DeMarco Murray speaks to the media after practice at NFL football training camp, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.  Murray left the Cowboys in free agency to sign with the Eagles.
Philadelphia Eagles' DeMarco Murray speaks to the media after practice at NFL football training camp, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. Murray left the Cowboys in free agency to sign with the Eagles. AP

Jon Gruden has an answer for anyone wanting to know why the Dallas Cowboys no longer have running back DeMarco Murray.

It’s all about salary cap implications, whom you pay and whom you don’t.

“You gotta rob Peter to pay Paul,” the ESPN analyst said.

The Cowboys went into their preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night with their top three candidates to replace Murray likely on the sidelines and no clear-cut favorite.

“I’m not letting Dez Bryant get out of there,” Gruden said during an ESPN SportsCenter telecast last week. “Dez Bryant is my favorite wide receiver in the league.”

Gruden, former head coach with Oakland and Tampa Bay, said the Cowboys made the choice to take care of Bryant financially with a long-term deal rather than risk a long-term deal for a running back, even one who is the reigning NFL rushing champion.

The running backs on the Cowboys’ roster entering the Chargers game were Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar, Gus Johnson and Lache Seastrunk.

Johnson and Seastrunk were expected to handle most of the rushing carries Thursday. Fullback Tyler Clutts also figures into the mix.

But, Gruden said, “Don’t be surprised if someone doesn’t knock on Steven Jackson’s door.” Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan coached the veteran running back when he was with the Rams.

The Houston Texas, like the Cowboys, are without their top running back from recent seasons. Arian Foster is sidelined after undergoing groin surgery last week.

According to a report from the Houston Chronicle, however, the Texans don’t appear to be looking outside for a running back, which has been the Cowboys’ strategy.

The Texans auditioned running backs Pierre Thomas, Ben Malena and Joe McKnight, the Chronicle reported, but haven’t signed a running back.

Running backs on Houston’s roster are Alfred Blue, the top candidate to replace Foster, along with Jonathan Grimes, Chris Polk and rookie Kenny Hilliard.

Asked about former Ravens running back Ray Rice, Texans owner Bob McNair said, according to the Chronicle, “I don’t know that he’s as good as any of the four we’ve got. I haven’t seen anybody else trying to sign him. I think that’s a pretty good indication of where he stands.”

— Vince Langford

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