After Christine Michael gained 6 yards on a third-and-1 run against the New England Patriots, the running back turned toward the Dallas Cowboys sideline and held out his arms wide as if to say, “See!”
“Just hungry to get more,” Michael explained Thursday.
Michael’s time has come.
After only 52 carries in two seasons in Seattle and two attempts in his first five games in Dallas, the Cowboys plan a bigger role for Michael this week against the New York Giants. It gives the former Texas A&M standout his best chance to show what he can do.
“I’ve got to go out there and help contribute to this team,” Michael said. “It’s a blessing to be out there. It’s a blessing that, like [the coaches] said, I’m going to have more carries. We’ll see once Sunday gets here.”
The Cowboys said leading rusher Joseph Randle still will get carries, but they have acknowledged a desire to take a look at Michael now that he is comfortable in the offense.
“We feel like he’s ready for some more carries,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said.
Randle leads the Cowboys in rushing with 291 yards and four touchdowns on 74 carries. He has 14.8 of the Cowboys’ average of 25.8 attempts per game.
Randle insists he’s ready for whatever the Cowboys ask of him, even if it’s fewer carries.
“I just want to be somebody good around the locker room, that’s not always mad about this and mad about that, making sure that I’m not a cancer in this locker room,” Randle said. “So I’m not going to be the one complaining for carries and all this different stuff like that. That’s not how I’m going to play.”
After five games last season, the Cowboys had 164 carries for 800 yards, a 160 yards-per-game average. DeMarco Murray, who ended up leading the league in rushing, had 130 of those carries for 670 yards in the first five games.
The Cowboys have gained 531 rushing yards on 129 carries this season, a 106.2 yards per game average.
They planned for a running back-by-committee approach after Murray left for Philadelphia in free agency. But Randle stands as the lone running back left on the 53-player roster who played in Dallas last season.
Darren McFadden signed with the Cowboys as a free agent the day after Murray left for the Eagles. Michael arrived in a Sept. 6 trade with the Seahawks. And, after Lance Dunbar tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the Cowboys added Rod Smith off the waiver wire from Seattle.
Michael, who, at 220 pounds, is a bigger, more physical back than Randle or McFadden, was inactive the first three games as he learned the offense. He played only one play in each of the past two games, losing a yard on a fourth-down run against the New Orleans Saints and gaining 6 yards on the third-and-1 run against the Patriots.
Now, Michael appears ready for more, and the Cowboys appear ready to give him more.
“C-Mike has done a good job,” Linehan said. “He’s worked hard since he’s been here. It takes a while to learn a new system, a new way of doing things. I think he’s done a good job of doing that. Excited for his opportunities, whatever those may be, to go out and show us what he’s capable of. We’ve seen it in little spurts, seen it in practice, seen two plays in games here, so we’re excited for him to take advantage of the opportunities he gets.”
Cowboys at Giants
3:25 p.m. Sunday, KDFW/4