DeMarco Murray lands increased role in Cowboys’ backfield
The Cowboys will play their starters for at least the first half in the team’s fourth preseason game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, which at this point could be considered as part of a final rehearsal ahead of the regular season. Since backup Lance Dunbar is sidelined with a sprained foot, Cowboys starting running back Murray’s carry total is expected to increase.
It is a big opportunity for Murray to moves past his injury history, after missing nine games over the past two seasons and also struggling with health issues during his college career. Murray’s freshman season – during which he set a franchise record with touchdowns in his Sooners’ debut – came to a premature end after due to a dislocated knee cap. The former second-round pick also stood out in his first career start for the Cowboys in 2011, only to end his rookie season on a broken right ankle seven weeks later.
"There are some things that I can't control," said Murray, who missed also missed six games with a sprained left foot last season. "All I can control is when I'm out there on the field and doing whatever I can to help this team win."
So far this year, Murray has made a strong case to finally ditch the injury-prone tag that stuck with him throughout college and during his first-two NFL seasons. Although Murray missed OTAs earlier this offseason due to hamstring issues, he insisted that it was a precautionary move by the team. That statement seems to hold true considering Murray had been outstanding in training camp, and did not miss any practices, due to injuries, over nearly four weeks in California.
But that’s not staying healthy isn’t the only thing Murray’s got going for him. Murray has also made adjustments to his posture while running, by lowering his shoulder more into defenders instead of his head. The NFL recently tweaked its rules so that runners leading with their head will be fined or penalized on that play. Murray is also shown improvement at finding holes through the defenders, and is doing a nice job of getting off the edge, as well.
"What we’ve tried to do is bump him up every week. I don’t know that it's actually happened because (of) fewer plays with turnovers,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. “But you want to get him feeling like he’s playing in a game, get a little lather, get knocked around a little bit, come back, play consecutive plays, get consecutive carries, all that stuff."