OXNARD, Calif. -- Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy has made no secret about his quest for 2,000 yards. New York Jets running back Chris Johnson has boasted about adding a second 2,000-yard season to his resume.
“Well, I’m focused on getting better right now,” Murray said. “I’m not worried about individual accolades. I’m trying to get better every day and help this team out. Once the preseason is over I’ll sit down and talk about it with myself team goal as well as individual.”
Murray is coming off his 1,000-yard season and is looking to become the first Cowboys’ runner since Emmitt Smith to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since 2000-01. If the work he has received in training camp is any indication, a second 1,000-yard season does not seem farfetched.
The Cowboys’ boast that they will run the ball more in 2014 does not sound as hollow as it sounded in 2012 and ’13. Scott Linehan came to the Cowboys with the reputation as a pass-first playcaller, but six of the first eight plays in the preseason opener, in which Murray did not play, were runs.
Murray has noticed more carries in training camp this summer than last year. Every day the Cowboys have a period in which the five offensive linemen and tight ends work against the Cowboys defensive line, working on the run game.
Murray will get his first taste of the Linehan running game in Saturday’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium.
“I’m excited to strap it up and get there for the game,” Murray said.
His work might be limited the entire preseason, as the Cowboys want to make sure he is 100 percent healthy for the regular season. Murray’s health has been an issue since the Cowboys took him in the third round of the 2011 draft.
He missed three games as a rookie with an ankle injury. He missed six games in 2012 with a foot injury. He missed two games in 2013 with a knee injury.
But the Murray on display in the final seven games was different than the back in the first half of the season. He had at least 86 yards on the ground in five of the last seven games.
He averaged 95 yards per game on the ground. Average that over the course of a full season and he would have more than 1,500 yards. The last time the Cowboys had a 1,500-yard rusher was Smith in 1995, when he ran for 1,773 yards.
“I think I’ve got to prove it to myself every day,” Murray said. “That’s more for me. I’m not worried about proving it to anyone besides myself that I’ve got to work hard every day. I’ve got to get better and help this team win. I think for me it’s just a mental game and I’ve got to be the strongest out there physically, mentally and emotionally.”