Running back Joseph Randle has lost his starting job. Now his status with the Dallas Cowboys could be in jeopardy as he deals with “a personal issue” and possible NFL discipline.
Coach Jason Garrett refused to elaborate on Randle’s issues or his future status when talking to the media on Thursday.
But he has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks because of an oblique strain.
A source said the Cowboys are more concerned about Randle’s wellness as he deals with his personal issue than football at this point.
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 abruptly leave the facility Wednesday and miss a treatment session. He returned briefly Thursday morning before leaving again to address the personal issue. Garrett talked to Randle on 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 discipline Randle potentially faces from the NFL.
Randle was arrested twice in a four-month span from last October to February. He was investigated for shoplifting, marijuana possession and domestic violence.
The involvement in the domestic violence incident in Wichita, Kan., might play a major role in his status with the team going forward. A source said Randle 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 the facility Wednesday were not because he was upset about losing his starting job to Darren McFadden, a move owner Jerry Jones announced Tuesday.
Still, Randle’s situation in the latest in a litany of troubles he has had the past couple years.
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 has only rushed for 313 yards and four TDs on 76 carries 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 on Oct. 4.
McFadden rushed 29 times for 152 yards against the Giants 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 Thursday. “He will not practice today. So he’s dealing with that and he’s dealing with this personal issue.”