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DeMarco Murray expecting to have 'great year'

7/23/2013

OXNARD, Calif. -- If you can describe what this offseason has been like for Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, one word comes to mind: change.

Murray has a new running backs coach, no fullback, a rule change outlawing leading with the helmet and another offensive line shuffle.

Yet Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said fans haven't seen the best of Murray, who enters his third NFL season.

"He's right on," Murray said. "This year will be a great year for me, I feel. I've come prepared physically, emotionally, and I'm definitely ready and I'm excited about this year and I feel ready. I feel great."

One of the biggest changes Murray has to deal with is playing without a fullback. With the help of Tony Fiammetta and Lawrence Vickers, Murray has gained 1,560 rushing yards overall in his first two seasons.

The Cowboys will use more two-tight end sets to spread out defenses and prevent a safety from creeping near the line of scrimmage to stop the run.

"It's a little different," Murray said of not having a fullback. "But it's something I'm definitely looking forward to. I love running out of different types of personnel. Vic was a great fullback, I wish him the best. It's a tough deal (but) this is definitely something I look forward to."

Murray is also working with his second position coach. After Skip Peete was let go following the 2012 season, the Cowboys hired Gary Brown to take over. Brown has proved to be a positive influence for Murray. Before the start of walk-through practices, Brown quizzes Murray on the playbook for a few minutes.

Brown is also challenging Murray to stop looking to make big yards and just settle for whatever is there because something might open up down the line.

"His motto is ugly money is good money," Murray said of Brown. "Two yards is good, three yards is good, and you may get those three or five carries in a row. Then, the next thing you know, the next one will pop for 10 or 12. Just got to trust the technique and trust the coaching and hopefully one pops for you."

A rule change is something else Murray has to deal with. The NFL has outlawed ball carriers from leading with the head, something Murray has been known to do. The rule is in place to help prevent head injuries to the ball carrier. Murray said he'll make the adjustment but isn't going to change how physical he plays.

Of course, the Cowboys like Murray's ability to run over defenders and use his speed to get past them. Murray's durability is a question entering his third season because he missed six games in 2012 with a sprained foot. Murray said he feels great now and doesn't need a metal plate in his shoe to protect the foot. What Murray does need is more carries, and coach Jason Garrett said the team will run the ball more.

If Murray gets more carries, which is expected, he'll have to deal with a shuffled offensive line that is already minus starting guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau at the start of training camp due to injuries.

"You would want the same five guys, but at the same time I've been playing this position a long time and I know how to play it," he said. "And no matter who is up there, I got to make plays and continue to work on my craft and have tunnel vision. You would like to have the same five guys, but things happen and guys get shuffled around and the next guy has to step up."