Dallas Cowboys Fans: Tap The Brakes On Ryan Williams Hype


One of the bigger questions that will follow the Dallas Cowboys around like a vulture this offseason is who will be their starting running back when the regular season starts. With the exodus of former starter DeMarco Murray, Cowboys fans are debating which of the current roster of backs could become the Cowboys new lead horse.

Newly signed free agent running back Darren McFadden and second-fiddle mainstay Joseph Randle seemed to be the odds on favorite. But one name continues to be thrown into the mix as a possible dark horse: current practice squad member and former second round pick in 2011, Ryan Williams.

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The hype train behind Williams started last preseason when the former Arizona Cardinal ran for 112 yards, one touchdown and had nine receptions in three games against questionable competition. Still, it was the most action the veteran had seen in almost two years as injuries have devastated his once promising career.

Despite his sketchy history, fans of his hard-nosed running style have fallen in love with the fact Williams has a chance to resurrect his football life behind a dominate Cowboys offensive line. But Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com thinks they should temper their expectations of a running back who has played just five meaningful games in the NFL in four years.

"“I think there needs to be a tapping of the brakes when it comes to what Ryan Williams can be,” Archer responded to a Twitter question in an article on Saturday. “He will have a chance to be part of the committee this summer, but I would put him fourth in the mix right now. He can’t be just as good as Darren McFadden or Joseph Randle. He has to knock out the champ, so to speak. Maybe he will. But I do think it’s telling that Gary Brown didn’t initially mention him when talking about the runners, Stephen Jones called him Ryan Mathews and Jerry Jones always talks about his pass protection. Again, he will have a chance to earn a spot, but I don’t know how anybody sees him jumping up the depth chart at this time of the offseason.”"

It is true, although Williams will get to opportunity to compete, he has just as much of a chance of being the odd man out on a roster that already includes running backs McFadden, Randle and Lance Dunbar.

But the fact the fifth-year veteran refused several offers to go elsewhere last season as a member of the Cowboys practice squad shows that he truly wants to succeed in Dallas. And the fact the Cowboys signed Williams to a two-year, $1.5 million contract this offseason proves they believe in him.

As a freshman at Virgina Tech in 2009, Williams rushed for 1,655 and 21 touchdowns in 13 games. After a lackluster sophomore year where he was plagued by a hamstring injury, the young back declared for the NFL Draft.

Selected by the Cardinals 38th overall, Williams barely saw the field his rookie season due to a ruptured right patellar tendon. A shoulder injury the following season limited the young back to just five regular season appearances. Williams hasn’t seen any meaningful playing time since.

But the former Hokie just turned 25 years old. And Williams certainly still has time to live up to the hype he produced coming out of college. Whether he will rise up the depth chart or not is just one of the many intriguing reasons to stay tuned to this team this offseason.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Who Is The Lead Back In The Stable?