Running back Joseph Randle has lost his starting job. Now his status with Dallas Cowboys could be in jeopardy as he deals with “a personal issue” and possible NFL discipline.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett refused to elaborate on Randle’s issues or his future status.
But he has already been ruled been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks because of an oblique strain.
Per a source, the Cowboys are concerned about Randle’s wellness more than football. He left the team’s facility on Wednesday expressing concerns about his girlfriend, per sources. Irving police were called to his house but found nothing wrong.
The bizarre behavior that has alarmed the Cowboys has even included him expressing thoughts of retirement and going into the ministry, per a source.
“We don’t anticipate Joe playing this week because of his injury,” Garrett said. “He has to take care of this personal issue.”
The issue caused Randle to leave the facility on Wednesday and miss a treatment session. He returned briefly on Thursday morning before leaving again to address the personal issue. Garrett talked to Randle Wednesday, but did not speak with him Thursday.
Still Garrett refused to speculate on whether Randle would be with the team next week let alone the remainder of the season.
“Don’t really want to get into that situation very much,” Garrett said. “The biggest issue with Joe is take care of the injury, get himself healthy and hopefully work though some of these personal issues.”
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said he hasn’t talked to Randle.
“I know he is working on a personal issue. We’re moving forward with this game right now. So we’ll have a discussion at some point. But right now, obviously we’re going to let Joe work out the personal issue and we’re just moving forward this week,” Linehan said.
Garrett said the personal issues are separate from any possible discipline Randle potentially faces from the NFL.
Randle was arrested twice in a four-month span from last October to February as he was investigated for shoplifting, marijuana possession and domestic violence.
His involvement in the domestic violence incident in Wichita, Kan., might play a major role in his status with the team going forward. Per a source, he is facing discipline from the NFL under the personal conduct policy.
“Don’t want to get into any of that,” Garrett said.
Randle didn’t face felony charges for domestic violence after the Sedgwick County (Kan.) District Attorney’s Office concluded there was “a lack of evidence” to go forward with the case in August.
The Wichita, Kan., police department spent almost three months looking into an early February incident at a downtown hotel that involved Randle getting into a dispute with the mother of his child.
Randle was subject to a six-game suspension or a fine for a first offense under the NFL’s domestic violence policy. However, the league did not address it at the time. The language of the new personal conduct policy is such that commissioner Roger Goodell gives himself the leeway to hand down punishment regardless of the legal process.
On Thursday, the NFL declined to confirm any form of discipline.
Garrett said the issues that caused Randle to leave leave the facility on Wednesday were not because he was upset about being surpassed on the depth chart by running back Darren McFadden, a move owner Jerry Jones announced Tuesday.
Still, Randle’s current situation in the latest of a litany of troubles he has had the past couple years alone.
In addition to the arrests, he drew the ire of the Cowboys in May when he disrespected 2014 NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray by saying he left some meat on the bone during his team-record 1,845-yard season.
Randle eventually won the starting job as Murray’s replacement but had yet to seize control, rushing for 313 yards on 76 carries and four touchdowns in the first six games.
He has been rebuked by the coaches for being careless with the ball. Running backs coach Gary Brown and offensive line coach Frank Pollack had harsh words for him about it in a loss against the New Orleans Saints Oct. 4.
McFadden did grab control against the Giants, rushing 29 times for 152 yards to earn the promotion.
All this comes a week after Randle said he wasn’t going to cause problems and be a cancer if his role was reduced.
“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.”
Now the question is: What is Randle’s status going forward?
“His status is he has the oblique strain and he really wasn’t able to practice yesterday,” Garrett said. “He will not practice today. So he’s dealing with that and he’s dealing with this personal issue.”
Added Linehan, “Everybody has a role and potentially have roles as long as they are able to be available and be able to play. Right now, we’re on to our seventh game. What guys’ roles are are defined by the week we’re in. So it’s kind of the nature of the game and where we are at this particular week. But each week is a new week and this is no different.”