Dallas Cowboys: Can Their Running Backs Stay Healthy?


The Dallas Cowboys running back position has been the main topic of discussion for the organization and the media ever since the exodus of DeMarco Murray, the NFL’s 2014 leading rusher, decided to join the division rival Philadelphia Eagles via free agency.

This topic has been discussed over and over again amongst the fans as well. And it will continue to be talked about until one of the running backs finally distances themselves from the rest of the pack or the Cowboys finally announce a starter.

It seems as if just about everybody’s main concern is who is going to be able to replace DeMarco Murray’s production from last season. But I think they should be more worried about if this current crop of Cowboys running backs can just stay healthy.

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Already running backs Darren McFadden and Ryan Williams have had to sit out parts of organized team activities (OTA’s) because of injuries. And that has to be at least a little bit concerning since the Cowboys plan to use a running back by committee for the upcoming season.

Is this a sign of things to come?

McFadden entered the league in 2008 as the fourth overall pick in the first-round by the Oakland Raiders. Since joining the NFL, McFadden has never lived up to his draft status and has been infamously known for being injury-prone during his seven-year pro career.

To think that the are relying on McFadden becoming a major contributor on offense has to be a little bit concerning considering his health history. Although, if the Cowboys do indeed plan on implementing a running back by committee approach, it could help revitalize and extend his career.

McFadden isn’t the only one with a history of not being him stay healthy.

The former second-round draft choice by the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan Williams, could possibly be considered even more injury-prone then McFadden.

Williams tore his patella tendon in 2011 and the Cardinals finally moved on releasing him. He caught on with the Cowboys in 2014, but spent the entire year on the practice squad.

Williams has missed several OTA practices because of swelling in his knee. This is a little bit concerning because these are non-contact practices. And in order for Williams to prove himself to the organization, he has to be able to stay on the field and proved to be coaches who can be a guy that they can rely on.

Williams has become somewhat of a fan favorite because of the way he runs the ball with energy and competitiveness. But in order to work his way up the depth chart, he has to be able to stay healthy.

Running back Lance Dunbar has also had struggle staying healthy since joining the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2012.

Dunbar is more of a change of pace back due to the fact that he is just 5’8″ tall and weighs only 195 pounds. He is more of a third-down back and the Cowboys have been trying to find a role for him on offense since joining the organization.

The Cowboys have been intrigued with Dunbar and each offseason since joining the organization he has been spoken highly enough of that many people believed he would have an expanded role. But it has as of yet come to fruition.

Like McFadden and Williams, Dunbar has also had a hard time staying healthy. And that is even more concerning because as a smaller running back, he is more likely to take a big hit and go down with an injury.

There is however some hope. Running back Joseph Randle, who could be the favorite to receive the majority of the carries, has been able to remain healthy so far in his short two-year career. This could be because of the fact that Randle hasn’t been asked to carry the majority of the load. But that could change in 2015.

Randle has received the majority of carries this offseason, but he still has to prove to the coaching staff and the organization that is ready to mature as a player on-the-field and off it. Injuries may not be a concern with Randle thus far, but his maturity level is a concern in itself.

Luckily for head coach Jason Garrett and the Cowboys organization, it’s still very early and they have time to let things play out and hopefully resolve themselves. The process is never-ending and Garrett knows that.

"“The issue was never resolved,” Garrett told the Dallas Morning News last month. “We feel very good about the guys we have on our roster. We feel good about Darren McFadden. We feel good about Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar, Ryan Williams. But we’re always trying to create competition. Competition with those four guys themselves but also competition where we can get running backs from other places….This is an ongoing process.”"

America’s Team does have options if they’re become unhappy with their current running back situation. They could bring in a free agent to compete for playing time, or they could attempt to pull off a trade for a running back that might be buried on the depth chart on another team.

But no matter what happens, I’m not really concerned to much about who starts at running back for the Cowboys. I’m more concerned with them staying healthy enough to contribute to the team when the games matter.

What should the Cowboys to regarding the running back position? Tell us in the comment section below.

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