- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The battle for the third running back spot on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster became much more interesting during the fourth quarter Saturday night.
That’s when Ryan Williams, the former second-round pick who played only five games in three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals because of injuries, provided glimpses of the potential that made him so highly regarded coming out of Virginia Tech.
Williams carried five times for 36 yards in the quarter. The highlights were a 27-yard run on which he ran right over a Baltimore Ravens safety and a 3-yard touchdown run that featured what hyperbole-prone owner and general manager Jerry Jones called an “Emmitt Smith cut.”
“He helped himself, there’s no question about that,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s a good runner. He and I have had some conversations over the course of training camp, and sometimes guys just need to get the weight of the world off their shoulders and just go play and play with a passion and a spirit.
“He certainly did that tonight, and we saw him break tackles, run over guys and just play with that elusiveness that we saw in him coming out of school.”
Williams, who ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee as a rookie, went on injured reserve with a shoulder injury his second season and essentially redshirted last year, readily admits that he didn’t have a great training camp.
The reality of the situation is that Williams is probably competing with 2013 fifth-round pick Joseph Randle for a roster spot. And Williams is well aware that Randle, who had another impressive performance with 41 yards on seven carries, is ahead of him on the depth chart.
“I feel like that’s where I went wrong,” Williams said. “During training camp, I was thinking too much. I didn’t just go out there and play. I want to be on the team. I want to be on my favorite team, and this is my favorite team.
“But one thing that I realized, man, I’ve never been a player to think. I’ve just been a player to react. So if I just go out there and show my skills, I’ll just let the chips fall where they fall – and I’m hoping all my chips fall here. That’s the plan and that’s the goal.”
Williams said words can’t describe the feeling he had after making big plays after such a long, twisted comeback road. He firmly believes that he’s physically back to being the same tailback who was a second-round pick a few years ago.
Williams has two more weeks to prove to the Cowboys he’s worth keeping on the roster and is eager for the opportunity.
“Yeah, he’s a good running back,” Jones said. “Of course, Joseph Randle has had a great camp. It’s really pushed Randle to have Williams behind him, but I’m glad to see Williams have that good night.”