9. Running Back
Cowboys starting running back DeMarco Murray had his best season of his short three-year career last year, earning his very first Pro Bowl bid. Despite the success, Murray still missed two games due to injury. It is a trait that has followed him throughout his professional and college career. And he has yet to play an entire season for the Cowboys because of it.
His back-up, Lance Dunbar, has also struggled with injuries. After a strong showing in training camp, expectations were at an all time high for Dunbar last season. But a fumble on only his second play of the regular season landed him firmly in Jason Garrett’s doghouse. He would play sparingly the rest of the season up until late November. On Thanksgiving Day, Dunbar rushed for 82 yards on 12 attempts showcasing his signature speed. Just as it appeared he would finally become a viable weapon for Dallas, it was announced Dunbar suffered ligament damage to his left knee during the game and would miss the rest of the season.
Luckily, the Cowboys drafted Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle in the fifth round earlier in 2013. And although I believe Randle did an admirable job when he was called upon, I’m not sure he’s the back Dallas was hoping for. He has certainly not develop as quickly as they hoped.
Third-year back Phillip Tanner is the forgotten man on this depth chart. Despite playing in 16 games last season, Tanner rushed the ball just nine times for a total of 12 yards and one score.
With injury issues plaguing both Murray and Dunbar, the maturing of Randle will be important to watch this offseason. Depending on how the Cowboys feel he is coming along, they may look to sign another young back as insurance.