Running back Lance Dunbar averaged 42 touches his first three seasons. He already has 29 this season.
“It’s a whole lot of fun just to get out there and show what you can do and help your team win,” Dunbar said Wednesday. “I’ve been here three years, and I’ve been waiting for this opportunity.”
The former Haltom and North Texas standout has gotten only two carries this season, but he’s become a big part of the passing game. He and tight end Jason Witten are tied for the team lead with 21 receptions, marking a season-best for Dunbar. He had 18 catches last season.
Dunbar’s 215 receiving yards lead the Cowboys. Only two other times in franchise history have running backs led the team in receiving yards after three games, with Preston Pearson (158 in 1978) and Herschel Walker (140 in 1987) also accomplishing the feat.
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Dunbar is on pace for 112 catches and 1,147 receiving yards.
“I do a lot of other things, too,” said Dunbar, who had 10 catches for 100 yards against the Falcons last week. “But that’s one of my strengths. I can’t get the ball all the time, so whenever I can, either catching it or running it, I try to take advantage of it. Throwing the ball to me out of the backfield, I’m finding out I’m pretty good at it.”
Dunbar had the first punt return of his career Sunday, taking it 4 yards. He has five kickoff returns for a 25.8 average.
Coaches repeatedly have said Dunbar is a better runner than he gets credit for, but they have limited his carries so far this season.
“If my number’s called to run the ball, I can,” Dunbar said. “I practice it all the time. I believe they have the faith in me. My name just hasn’t been called in a game. We have other backs that have a job and I have my role.”