Cowboys newest player key to offensive turnaround?
Earlier this season, the Dallas Cowboys biggest offensive weapon was likely running back Lance Dunbar. For much of the year, the diminutive, but versatile playmaker led the Cowboys in receptions recording 21 catches for 215 yards in his first four games. Dunbar also gave the Cowboys special teams unit a boost as a kickoff returner, averaging 24.3 yards per.
Unfortunately, the 25-year old undrafted running back out of North Texas tore his ACL in a Week Four matchup against the New Orleans Saints. And the Cowboys have been struggling to replace Dunbar’s production ever since.
The Cowboys may have found that replacement earlier this week when they plucked former Texas A&M running back Trey Williams off the Washington Redskins practice squad. And according to one former NFL scout, Williams might even be an upgrade over Dunbar.
"“While with Washington, [Williams] was used as a wide receiver in the pass game scheme-wise. His best work was over the middle on check downs and screens. He will adjust to the ball, secure then get up the field,” Cowboys analyst Bryan Broaddus wrote in his scouting report that appeared on the team’s official site earlier this week. “He has special teams value as a kickoff return man. He was one of the best in the nation while at Texas A&M averaging over 25 yards a return. Very similar player to what they had with Lance Dunbar in the things he can do offensively but better pass blocker.”"
The biggest knocks against Williams appear to be his 5-8, 195 pound frame and his lack of production in college. Far from a workhorse, the 22-year old is more of a change-of-pace or finesse back, and he plays better in space. Hence the Dunbar comparison. Although Williams has similar size and speed to the Cowboys fourth-year back, but lacks his experience.
During his three seasons at Texas A&M, Williams ran for a total of 1,343 yards and 18 touchdowns on 204 carries, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. He also recorded 38 receptions for 330 yards and one score in that same span. Williams also had 70 kickoff returns for a total of 1,684 yards, averaging 24.1 yards per return.
Williams was part of a running-back by committee at Texas A&M. He started only once in 36 games as an Aggie, and only recorded double digit carries in five of those contests. Williams also only rushed for 100+ yards in a game one time.
That lack of usage while at Texas A&M doesn’t necessarily mean Williams couldn’t have been an effective starter for the Aggies. It’s simply an unknown. Over the preseason, the undrafted rookie ran for 127 yards and a score on 31 carries in four games for the Redskins.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett simply thinks the talented young player, whom they liked coming out of college, is worthy of an opportunity.
"“He’s a productive guy,” Garrett told the Star-Telegram on Wednesday. “He’s a smaller back but he’s almost small in stature more than he is a small guy. He’s got some thickness to him but a guy that I think has a good feel for playing the game. He has good quickness and explosiveness and he’s made some plays in a short period of time. You watch his tape from the preseason, we feel good about him. We liked him coming out of school and we just want to give him an opportunity.”"
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Just being added to the Cowboys roster this week, it will likely take some time for Dallas’ coaching staff to trust Williams enough to get him on the field. But once they do, the young man appears to have all the traits to become a very similar offensive weapon to Dunbar, who helped the Cowboys start the season 2-0 earlier this year.
With Dallas currently riding out a five-game losing streak, adding the versatile rookie to the backfield could be key to an offensive turnaround by the Cowboys. At the very least, look for Williams to be a possible solution to Dallas’ special teams woes as a returner.