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Upon Further Review: Henry Melton's surge

11/11/2014

The Dallas Cowboys get a well deserved week off after their 31-17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. We take a look at the game and some big picture points in our weekly Upon Further Review.

Melton is moving along: When the Cowboys acquired Henry Melton in free agency, the goal was for him was to play the three-technique of the defensive line, namely the main pass-rusher. Melton was recovering from a torn ACL, suffered last season when he played for the Chicago Bears and some nagging injuries that limited practice and playing time early in the season. Tyrone Crawford, a third-year defensive lineman from Boise State was just better and became the starter. Melton has emerged in the past three weeks and with Crawford out for some time with a sprained knee, it might be difficult to get his old job back. In the past three weeks, Melton has 3.5 sacks, five tackles, six quarterback hurries and five tackles for loss. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is mindful of Melton's snap count, keeping him in the 30s. He played 34 snaps in the win over Jacksonville in London. At this rate, Melton will become everything the Cowboys envisioned when he signed: a disruptive force along the defensive line.

Murray's touches getting reduced: If you were worried about the number of touches running back DeMarco Murray was getting, don't be. Yes, the NFL's leading rusher started the season with 20 or more carries in seven consecutive games with four games where he ran the ball 25 times each. In the past three weeks, Murray hasn't run more than 19 times in a game and he's picked up 141, 79 and 100 yards in those games. In the loss to Arizona, where Murray rushed for 79 yards, an argument could be made he should have touched the ball more often. The objective is to give Murray a break from time-to-time and after No. 2 back Joseph Randle's verbal transgressions in a Frisco, Texas jail, which led to reduced playing time against Arizona, he got that in London. Randle set season highs in carries (seven) and yards (56) against Jacksonville. Say what you will about Randle's off-the-field issues, he's a good running back. He runs with a burst through the holes and is hard to bring down like Murray. As the season continues, expect Randle to get more carries and Murray to remain in the 19-22 per carry range.

Tackle play is outstanding: Want to know how much the Cowboys missed right tackle Doug Free. The Cowboys led the NFL with 67 running plays off right tackle. When plays are run off Free's side, the Cowboys average 5.06 yards per carry, seventh in the league. Not to be outdone, the Cowboys led the NFL with 64 run plays off the left tackle side, led by Tyron Smith. The Cowboys are third in the league running toward left tackle at six yards a carry. The praise of running up the middle with young linemen such as Travis Frederick, Ronald Leary and Zack Martin is noted, don't forget about the veteran Free or the Pro Bowler in Smith who have been equal -- if not better.