Cowboys position breakdown: RBs

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
2:00
PM ET
Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer break down the Cowboys, position by position, analyzing what the players did in 2013, what they can do in the future and what the team can do to improve the position in 2014.

Under contract: DeMarco Murray, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar.

A look back: Murray overcame doubts about his abilities from outside Valley Ranch and rushed for 1,124 yards, eighth in the NFC and 10th in the NFL, with nine touchdowns. Murray became the first Cowboys running back to rush for 1,000 yards since 2006. Murray missed two games due to injuries, and coach Jason Garrett said if not for that he might have been more productive. Murray's running style was questioned during the season -- he ran out of bounds and avoided contact on a few carries -- but he finished the season earning his first Pro Bowl berth with a measured style of running that gives the team hope he has a future. Randle wasn't used much in 2013 and didn't overwhelm anyone when he took over the starting role for an injured Murray. Lance Dunbar was a change-of-pace back, who battled through injuries and was lost for the season when he hurt his knee in a victory over Oakland on Thanksgiving Day. Dunbar, along with Phillip Tanner, who is a restricted free agents should return in 2014 to provide depth.

A look ahead: Murray is the undisputed leader at running back and there shouldn't be any issues with his status in 2014. He adjusted to the one-cut style of running backs coach Gary Brown and produced one of the best seasons for a Cowboys running back in a few years. If only the Cowboys would have used him more. There were too many instances where playcaller Bill Callahan didn't rely on him enough and quarterback Tony Romo changed run plays to pass too much. The Cowboys must rely on Murray more and, of course, if he stays healthy, use Dunbar on third-down plays. Randle has to improve his pass blocking to get more time on the field.

A look out: It's doubtful if the Cowboys will look to extend Murray's contract, like they have with other younger players on the team such as Dan Bailey, Orlando Scandrick, Sean Lee and Barry Church. However, he does have a future. Drafting a running back won't happen this year, given the holes on the defense, but there's expectations Randle will get better.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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