IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys' offense loses some “juice” with scatback Lance Dunbar sidelined by a sprained foot.
That’s the term coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo use to describe Dunbar’s dynamic quickness and explosiveness. It’s what makes Dunbar, a second-year player who was undrafted out of North Texas, unique among the four running backs likely to make the Cowboys’ roster.
Never mind the unimpressive numbers from Dunbar’s rookie season, when he gained 75 yards on 21 carries and caught six passes for 33 yards. He had carved out a significant role as a change-of-pace and third-down back behind DeMarco Murray.
The Cowboys envision Dunbar as their version of Darren Sproles, the New Orleans Saints’ undersized spark plug. They are especially enamored by his receiving skills and ability to make plays in space, a couple of attributes Dunbar displayed on his 43-yard catch-and-run that unfortunately ended with a fumble inside the Arizona 5 in Saturday’s preseason loss.
“Totally forgive him,” Jerry Jones said after the game. “I’m so glad our fans got to see him. He’s quick, fast and makes plays.”
That will be the last fans see of Dunbar making plays for at least three or four weeks. The season opener against the New York Giants is scheduled for three weeks and a day after Dunbar suffered the injury.
Murray missed six games with a sprained foot last season. If Dunbar takes that long to recover, he’s in jeopardy of missing the first three or four games of the season.
A sprained foot is especially a concern for a player whose best trait is his quickness. The Cowboys can only hope that Dunbar recovers quickly and brings the juice when he comes back.