Entering Dallas Cowboys training camp this July, the Cowboys have four running backs vying for the back-up position on the depth chart behind starter DeMarco Murray. Those half backs are Lance Dunbar, Ryan Williams, Joseph Randle and Ben Malena. Each of them have attributes well-suited as a back-up for Murray. But only one will win the job. And chances are, not all four will even make the team’s final 53-man roster.
Let’s do a short breakdown of each player:
Lance Dunbar – An undrafted free agent out of North Texas, Dunbar has struggled to stay healthy in his first two professional seasons. But when he has played, the diminutive back has shown flashes of greatness. With eyebrow raising quickness and good receiving hands, Dunbar is the perfect change of pace back to place behind Murray. As a big-play threat, Dunbar easily compares with the likes of the Darren Sproles type playmakers across the league. He simply lacks their consistency. As last year’s back-up, Dunbar has the inside track on the role once again in 2014.
Ryan Williams – A second round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2011, Williams has yet been healthy enough to showcase any of the ability he showed at Virgina Tech. But Williams impressed the Cowboys coaching staff last month during his try out that sparked a bit of tempered excitement about his possible future contributions to this team. This is one player everyone should be watching closely during training camp and throughout the preseason. If Williams can live up to the hype that surrounded him back in 2011, then Dallas might have just found themselves more than just a back-up.
Joesph Randle – The former Oklahoma State Cowboy was considered a bit of a steal when Dallas drafted him with their fifth round pick in 2013. And Randle seemed to perform well last season when he was called upon. He recorded 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns during his rookie campaign. But there has always seemed to be an underlining mistrust on the part of the Cowboys coaching staff when it comes to Randle. Whether that’s due to poor pass blocking or some other reason, Randle could be on the roster-bubble headed into training camp. And for some fans, that will be surprising news.
Ben Malena – The undrafted rookie free agent out of Texas A&M has been making positive waves this offseason. Malena has all the tools to help this team in 2014. Unlike former Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner, Malena is a willing special teams player. He’s also considered a good pass blocker and receiving threat, aiding now Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel make some of his highlight reel plays as an Aggie last season. Malena could be considered Randle’s biggest threat.
Also playing a factor in how many running backs the Cowboys keep on their active roister will be the role of the fullback. it is unknown whether the Cowboys will actually employ a fullback or not in 2014. Last season, the fullback position was initially abandoned in favor of a extra tight end essentially playing that role. But near the end of the season, the Cowboys added former Chicago Bears fullback Tyler Clutts to the roster. Now Clutts is joined by undrafted rookie fullback J.C. Copeland out of LSU. If Dallas decides to keep either fullback on their final roster, that would most likely eliminate one spot on the depth chart for a running back.
But what do you think? Who Will Win The Cowboys Back-Up Running Back Battle? Place your vote below and feel free to chime in to our community discussion about it in our comments section as well.