Heading into his first full season at the helm of the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garrett made it clear that every position is open to competition. This includes running back, which might explain where third-round pick DeMarco Murray fits into the plans.
There’s already talk that Murray, who etched his name in the record books at Oklahoma, could make an instant impact on offense. The Las Vegas native is looked at as more of an all-around back who has the ability to shine in short yardage situations. This may take away from the “running back by committee” theory and actually cut down playing time for others.
The issue with Murray has been the injury bug. Murray redshirted his first year at OU because of a toe injury. He tied Adrian Peterson’s freshman record of 15 touchdowns in 2007, but suffered the dislocated kneecap while trying to recover an onside kick at Texas Tech. Surgery wiped out workouts the following spring. He was a 1,000-yard rusher as a third-year sophomore, then went down with the hamstring tear on the opening kickoff of the Big 12 championship game. Another spring, more surgery. He was a scratch the last time OU reached the national championship game at the end of the 2008 season, suffering a torn hamstring tendon.
Murray flirted with the idea of entering the NFL draft after the 2009 season, opted against it and threw himself into physical and mental conditioning for his senior year. He finished with 1,214 yards rushing and passed Steve Owens for OU’s all-time career touchdown record with 58.
Another dimension Murray brings to the Cowboys is special teams where he is expected to help as a return specialist. If he gets featured in the offense like second-year wide receiver Dez Bryant is expected to be, the Cowboys would be in good position to use both Bryant and Murray to field punts so neither wears down and each remains explosive in that phase.
So if the injury bug is out of the way, Murray could be looked at as a steal for the Cowboys.
Written by C. James