News broke late Monday that Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle was forced to miss a large portion of practice to what is now being called an oblique strain. Randle, whom many consider the favorite to replace DeMarco Murray in Dallas this season, will now join fellow injured running backs Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar on the sidelines. With their three top backs currently out of commission, the Cowboys have been forced to use fullback Tyler Clutts as their main running back during certain practice drills.
Despite having Lache Seastrunk and rookie Gus Johnson left on the depth chart, Clutts has been deemed a better option at times due to his understanding of the hurry-up offense. Plus he’s also a superior protector on third downs. In a practice recap that appeared on DallasCowboys.com Monday, even the team’s own official site admitted this isn’t the ideal situation.
"“You could tell how dire the numbers game was at running back when [Tyler] Clutts started taking first-team carries with the offense. It was far from an ideal situation, but the fullback performed admirably, all things considered. In full-team period, he took a handoff from Brandon Weeden on about the 12-yard line and rumbled through the defense for a surprising touchdown. His bowling ball run exasperated the Cowboys defenders and their coaches.”"
You can watch the play in question in the below video. But you should be warned, as it contains foul language. Specifically, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli losing his mind over his defenders allowing Clutts to score on the play.
Clutts has never recorded a single rushing attempt during his time with the Cowboys. In fact, he’s only recorded two rushing attempts in his professional career and that was during the preseason as a member of the Chicago Bears back in 2011. Clutts was actually a defensive end at Fresno State, who went undrafted back in 2008. He’s first three years as a professional football player he bounced between the Canadian Football League (CFL), the Arena Football League (AFL) and the United Football League (UFL). In 2010, Clutts converted to fullback.
The Cowboys added Clutts to their roster late into the 2013 regular season. And he’s become a favorite of head coach Jason Garrett ever since. A free agent this offseason, Dallas opted not to re-sign the 30-year old fullback as they thought his asking price would be to high. Instead, the Cowboys signed veteran fullback Jeb Collins as a replacement. But when Dallas found out Clutts was still available in May, they dropped Collins and promptly signed Tyler.
That move has been paying dividends in training camp as Clutts has emerged as a leader amongst a running back group, that is now without their former leader in Murray. Not only is he filling in at the spotlight position, but Tyler has also proven himself to be a viable receiving threat out of the backfield. This offseason has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the sixth-year veteran. But not even Clutts would have imagined stepping in at the running back position for America’s Team.
"“It’s funny, Coach [Scott] Linehan and I were talking and he asks me, ‘When was the last time you were a tailback?’ and I said never,” Clutts told ESPN.com on Monday. “He said, ‘When you were a kid did you think you were going to be the tailback for the Dallas Cowboys?’ I said, ‘Coach, I still don’t think I’m a tailback for the Dallas Cowboys."
Obviously, Clutts is simply filling in for the Cowboys right now due to the injury situation as running back. And it’s certainly good to know he can fill-in during an emergency. But having the veteran fullback lining up at that position during the regular season means things have gone terribly wrong in Dallas. Clutts himself admitted as much.
"“But it’s fun and for me it’s more important to show that I can do a lot of things for the team and if they get in a really bad situation that they can trust I can get in and do the job.”"