DeMarco Murray expects the decision whether he plays Sunday to be his.
The running back did more in practice Thursday than he did Wednesday. The Cowboys officially listed him as limited.
“I’m competitive, a very competitive person, and I want to help this team out as much as I can,” Murray said. “Whatever that portrays me doing come Sunday, then we’ll see from there. I’ve had two good days. We’ll see how it goes.”
Murray broke the fourth metacarpal on his left hand with three minutes remaining in the 38-27 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. He left the game with a pained expression.
“It kind of stung for a minute, then went away,” Murray said. “I kind of went over to the sideline and felt a little clicking and asked [head trainer] Jim [Maurer] about it, and he kind of knew right away what happened. I don’t really know [how it] happened.”
Murray had surgery Monday, with a plate and screws now stabilizing the fracture. He is wearing a plastic shell under his glove, the same protection Emmitt Smith and Terrell Owens used for similar injuries during their Cowboys’ careers.
“I think the trainers did a good job of coming up with something,” said Murray, who, on Thursday, accepted his award for being named the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. “So far, so good.”
Smith missed a Week 9 game after surgery on his right hand in 1999. Owens had the same surgery on his right hand during the team’s bye week in 2006.
While he was at Alabama, Eddie Lacy fractured the fourth metacarpal in his left hand in 2012. He played two games with the injury before getting a metal plate and seven screws between the SEC title game and the BCS Championship Game.
Murray carries the ball predominantly in his right hand, but he still has to use his left hand. He will have to pass protect, catch the ball and brace himself when tackled if he plays.
The Cowboys repeatedly use the word “functional” in determining whether an injured player can play.
“People deal with injuries all the time, so you’ve got to be able to fight through the pain,” Murray said. “These are some important games that we’ve got coming up, and I know how important they are. We know how important they are. Whatever we can do to get these wins is definitely crucial and vital to what we want to do in the playoffs and trying to get there. I’m just taking it one day at a time and preparing like I always do.”
The Cowboys’ chances of winning are better with the league’s leading rusher than without him. They are guaranteed a playoff berth only with victories in their final two games.
“We shouldn’t leave anything at home, figuratively speaking,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Thursday. “Even though we’re at home, we shouldn’t leave anything back at the house. We’ve got to put it all out here. If he can help us win, that’s the smart decision as far as strategy is concerned. As it turns out, this isn’t strategy. This is about him. I do know that his attitude about it is inspiring for everybody.”
Right tackle Doug Free and right guard Zack Martin both missed practice again Thursday. Martin played through his ankle injury last week and is expected to play Sunday, according to Jones.
But Jones acknowledged that Free might sit out because of an injured left ankle.
“Martin, I think will play through it, because I saw him play through the same circumstances last week and played well,” Jones said. “Free’s a different story. He did play, but he didn’t play completely through the game. We might be looking at more there with him, and so, that one does concern me more.”