There is no way to know, as we sit here in July 2012, whether Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is going to be the next Emmitt Smith or the next Julius Jones or where he will eventually fall on the vast spectrum in between. As Calvin Watkins writes for ESPNDallas.com, what we do know is that the Cowboys seem to trust Murray as their workhorse back in a way that they haven't trusted many lately:
Jason Garrett doesn't mind running the ball, as long as the offensive line and fullbacks make the necessary holes to get it going.
The numbers indicate that Garrett trusts Murray.
He had five games with 20 or more carries, the most for any running back since Garrett became offensive coordinator in 2007. Murray also became the first back under Garrett to have four consecutive games with 20 or more carries.
Felix Jones, Murray's backup, has had just two games with 20 or more carries since he was drafted in 2008.
Marion Barber, a former starter, had four 20-carry games in 2008, but he reached that mark just once more before being released.
When I watch Murray run, I see a guy who looks like a workhorse back -- who enjoys contact, runs hard and isn't afraid of the workload. A guy like that might not be able to hold up, long term, in today's NFL, but the Cowboys see in Murray a back who can be their starter in the short term, in a way that fewer and fewer teams are using starting running backs.
This is not a time-share situation in Dallas. If Murray is recovered from his ankle injury and fully healthy, he is going to get the carries, and Jones is going to be the backup, as he was last season before Murray got hurt. How long that can last is anyone's guess, but at least for right now, Murray is the back in whom the Cowboys have put their trust.