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Friday, May 17, 2013
DeMarco Murray has quality support

By Calvin Watkins

One of the biggest challenges the Dallas Cowboys faced this offseason was finding a comfort level with DeMarco Murray's backups.

It appears that wasn't the case last season when Murray went down for six games with a severely sprained foot. Murray wanted to come back sooner, but the foot didn't respond quick enough to treatment. So with Murray out, the Cowboys went with Felix Jones as the starter.

In those six games, Jones scored just two touchdowns and had one game with over 50 rushing yards (71 against Philadelphia). When Murray returned, he rushed for at least 50 yards four times, 70 yards three times and scored three rushing touchdowns.

Murray said he's confident in backups Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner's abilities to produce if he gets hurt in 2013. Yet, last season was a struggle for a Cowboys rushing attack that finished 31st overall.

This offseason, the Cowboys let Jones test the free agent market -- he eventually signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles -- and drafted Joseph Randle in the fifth round. Tanner and Dunbar remain on the team as backups to Murray.

"I benefit from someone who they can trust," Murray said. "When I went down, I don't think there was a lot of trust. I think doing the right things during the week of practice gains trust, and I don't think they saw that last year. Those guys weren't as consistent as they could be."

The Cowboys need quality backups for Murray given his health status the last two seasons (missed nine games due to injury), so the running game won't struggle the way it did last season.

Randle seems to be the quality backup the team is looking for, because if something happens to Murray, the objective is to move him to No. 1 on the depth chart.

"I'm a competitor," Murray said. "I'm going to compete against everybody. ... I'm going to try and help (Randle) out as much as I can. At the end of the day, we're a team. I'm trying to get better individually and collectively as a unit and a team."