Dallas Cowboys

Here’s a start: Lance Dunbar has a defined role as the third down back

Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar (25) will serve as the third down back in 2015.
Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar (25) will serve as the third down back in 2015. Star-Telegram

Lance Dunbar’s name doesn’t get bandied about when talk turns to who will replace DeMarco Murray as the starter at running back for the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday’s season opener against the New York Giants.

It was either Joseph Randle or Darren McFadden through training camp and the preseason and now Christine Michael has been added to the mix as possible starter down the road.

"It doesn’t matter to me," Dunbar said. "As long as I get to play and show what I can do to help this team win."

For first time in his four-year career, the latter is not up for debate.

Unlike Randle, McFadden and Michael, Dunbar heads into the season with a defined role as the team’s third down back and primary kickoff returner.

"Yeah, I know my role and the things they have for me," Dunbar said. "That hasn’t changed yet."

The Cowboys have talked about a bigger role for Dunbar last season but it never came to fruition. Dunbar rushed 29 times for 99 yards and caught 18 passes for 217 yards. Murray rarely came off the field as the featured back and the third down back.

But with Murray gone to Philadelphia in free agency, things are decidedly different for the potential starters as well as for the speedy Dunbar.

The plan of using Dunbar in the passing game as a third down back is actually being put into practice and it has the former North Texas star more excited about the start of the season than any in his career.

"Yeah, I’m really excited about it," Dunbar said. "Last year it was more of them saying that. But this year I actually see it. They are actually calling my name to do stuff. I’m looking forward to it."