Year after year we hear about a battle in the Dallas Cowboys backfield. Last offseason it was no different, with most everyone calling for a replacement of then and current Cowboys starter DeMarco Murray. He went on to have the best season of his career and ultimately made a Pro Bowl berth. So is there still a battle for touches among the running backs? Very much so.
First off you have to think how many running backs Dallas will carry on their roster when they start the season. Can they get by with just three, or do they need to have four. With the injury history of Murray and change-of-pace back Lance Dunbar, and the fact that they are almost guaranteed roster spots, there are realistically two spots up for grabs.
Contender No. 1 is recently signed Ryan Williams. The former second-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals has a ton of ability, but like Dunbar and Murray, can’t seem to stay on the field. He’ll have every opportunity to compete for a job, but is he worth the risk? Like they always say, “High risk; high reward.” But so is the fall. So let’s say he has a decent showing during pre-season and just barely beats out the competition. Would you feel comfortable having a player who has an injury history backing up two other guys that suffer from the same thing? You could realistically have three injured running backs by Week Three. Scary.
Contender No. 2 is last year’s fifth-round pick Joseph Randle. He was far from exciting last year in limited use, but he was a rookie who was thrown into the fire and may not have been fully ready for it. A full off-season and some heavy work in the pre-season might be all Randle needs to show he is ready to be a bigger contributor to Scott Linehan’s offense.
There are a few other undrafted free agents Dallas brought in to fill out the roster – Ben Malena out of Texas A&M and Glasco Martin from Baylor. Unfortunately, Martin was released on May 19th. Still, the Cowboys have had good luck with UDFAs in the past, so maybe Malena could surprise us. In the end, he’ll probably be cut and possibly stashed on the practice squad.
With so many of the backs on Dallas’ roster injury-prone, it’s anybody’s guess who makes it to Week One. The favorites are Murray, Dunbar, Williams, and Randle. But do you see one of the dark horses knocking one of those four off? We’ll see.