- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas -- When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle in the fifth round on Saturday afternoon, team officials felt they found a quality backup to starter DeMarco Murray.
More importantly, if Murray goes down with an injury, he missed six games last season with a foot injury, the Cowboys believe Randle would take over the starting role.
And that a special teams role, which normally goes to one of the backup running backs, wouldn't be a role for Randle.
"We pictured him as the second running back behind Murray," owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. "It's the third running back that you dress on game day that participates on special teams. You can make a big case in this day and time that your second running back is going to take snaps and be apart of what (Jason Garrett) described here; out of the backfield, blocking all the things we think he mirrors to Murray."
Added Garrett: "We also feel like he's a guy who can get bigger and stronger."
Randle has a thumb injury that will force him to wear a brace over his hand. He will be available for the rookie minicamp in two weeks but won't be able to catch passes because of the injury. Cowboys' officials say they don't believe the injury is serious enough for him to miss any offseason workouts or training camp.
The addition of Randle raises questions about the other backup running backs: Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar (Haltom City, Texas). The Cowboys have placed a higher value on Dunbar because of his ability to play special teams and become a change-of-pace back.
Tanner is similar to Randle and Murray and his roster spot is shaky.
"The NFL is a two-back system now, so guys need other guys to come in and you don’t want to drop the tempo off much, so I think we’ll work well together," Randle said of him and Murray. "I’m just going to come in and work hard and see where that gets me."