As you look across the National Football League in this modern era, It’s not everyday that you find an every down Running Back that carries the full load for their respective team like the days of hall of fame greats Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas, etc.
Now you will find an occasional star like an Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, Chris Johnson, or even a Michael Turner to name a few that has the ” workhorse ” ethic and ability that their team counts on to wear down defenses, and helps seals the win.
DeMarco Murray may become that type of figure for the Cowboys once he gets himself more established, and conditioned for a full workload this upcoming season.
Murray was a jack-of-all-trades type of Running Back coming from the University of Oklahoma last year, and surprisingly, fell in the Cowboys lap sitting there in the 3rd Round ( 71st overall ). Many draft gurus and media experts had Murray coming off their boards from top of the 2nd to the end of the 2nd round especially since he left the Sooners 6,718 all purpose yards including 3,685 in rushing, 1,571 in receiving, and 1,462 in kickoff returns. He also had 65 touchdowns totaling 50 on the ground, 13 in the air, and 2 on returns. Most impressively, finishing with a 6.9 average every time the ball was placed in his hands.
I can only imagine the War Room was ecstatic when Murray’s name was still on the board when they jumped back on the clock to pick. Now sure the Cowboys still have Felix Jones on the Roster. And of course at the time they had Marion Barber and Tashard Choice as well. But after watching Barber’s performance and injury nursing season, along with that high dollar contract, Everyone from Jerry Jones down to the towel boy knew Barber’s days in Dallas were numbered. And he wouldn’t be returning.
After the draft, Murray couldn’t even come to the facility for workouts and OTA’s due to the NFL CBA lockout. He then took it upon himself for private workouts, only to injure himself with a hamstring strain, and missing the first 2 preseason games being a bystander for most of training camp.
It’s definitely been hard, been a struggle. My teammates have picked me up and let me know it’s going to be OK. I realize this is a marathon and not a sprint. DeMarco Murray at July’s Training Camp
Murray started the 2011 season playing sparingly behind Felix Jones for the first 6 weeks of the season. But once that October 23rd home game versus the Rams took place displaying his talents as he sprinted on 25 carries, 253 yards, and a 91 yard td run, Everyone knew that Murray was for real, and here to stay.
Before breaking his ankle against the Giants in that Sunday night shootout December 11th, Murray would lead all Rookie running backs in rushing yards with 897 yards, 2 tds, and a 5.5 rushing average in 13 games ( 7 starts ) along with 26 receptions for 183 yards.
With a full offseason and rehabilitation, Murray should be ready to take over as the starting running back. Felix Jones will be playing on the last year of his contract, and will provide a breather and change of pace running style, along with another rookie sensation in Phillip Tanner, who went undrafted last year.
Head Coach Jason Garrett was recently asked about Murray’s rehabilitation progress, and he stated :
He’s getting there,” Garrett said. “At every turn, the rehab has gone well for him, all positive marks. … He’s a guy who has been there every day doing what he’s supposed to do and his body is responding well.
Now with Jones at the end of his contract, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys decide not to resign him. And look in a different direction, including the upcoming draft. Rumors have stated that the scouting department and some of the coaching staff were intrigued and impressed with Baylor’s Terrance Ganaway when they were attending the Bears pro day. Ganaway may be available in the later rounds. Along with a 6′-0″, 240 lb. frame, which would bring a different dimension of running style to the Cowboys offense. But only time will tell. As for DeMarco Murray, he is ready to show the world he was definitely a steal in the 3rd round.