Rookie Watch: Murray amazes
To say that Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray burst onto the scene would be the understatement of the century.
His 253-yard rushing performance was amazing. I can't take a thing away from Murray, because he played great, but that total does inflate what he did to some degree. Dallas' blocking dominated a downtrodden Rams defense and opened gaping holes for Murray. Of course, Murray capitalized on the opportunity.
Murray didn't catch a pass in Week 7, but that facet of his game is very advanced for a rookie. Murray has a solid build and is adept in protection. He has very soft hands and is a plus route runner for a running back. That very much fits what Dallas wants to do on offense, as I see this as a pass-first offense with lighter, more athletic linemen than in the past.
But Murray is no slouch as a runner, either. He is somewhat of a straight-line runner, though, and doesn't have great lateral quickness. But he is fast in a straight line, runs aggressively with power, and is decisive in all his movements with a strong burst for a back with his dimensions.
This is obviously Murray's job until Felix Jones returns. But once Jones does get back into the fold, I would keep Murray as the primary runner and use Jones as a change-of-pace player and third-down option. But Murray also would be fine in a third-down role.
Jones (high ankle sprain) and Murray (hamstring injury early in the season) both have had health issues, so utilizing both makes a ton of sense to me. But in a nutshell, it looks like Dallas hit big on its third-round pick.
|Ranking||Player, position (draft position)||Last week|
|Von Miller, Broncos LB (first round, No. 2)
Miller might have had his best game as a professional against the hapless Dolphins -- and that is saying something. You all can keep writing comments about how Miller has no business on top of this list. But I suggest you watch him play first. He is fantastic.
|Cam Newton, Panthers QB (first round, No. 1)
Newton was fantastic once again, but this time his Panthers emerged victorious. He seems to be unique among those playing the position right now. One of the most impressive things about Newton thus far is the fantastic on-the-field relationship he has going with WR Steve Smith.
|A.J. Green, Bengals WR (first round, No. 4)
Like many players on this list, Green was on bye Sunday. The Bengals travel to Seattle this week. It is a cross-country road trip, but there is not a cornerback on Seattle's roster who can keep up with Green one-on-one. I am expecting another big day for this ultra-talented rookie.
|Aldon Smith, 49ers LB (first round, No. 7)
On bye Sunday, this rookie phenom pass-rusher will match himself against a pretty good set of Browns' offensive tackles in Week 8. Joe Thomas isn't playing to his same extremely high level this season, but he is still one of the best in the business. And Tony Pashos has done quite well himself at right tackle. Let's see what Smith can do this week -- I bet he more than holds his own.
|Jabaal Sheard, Browns DE (second round, No. 37)
Sheard played another strong game Sunday, as his Browns simply negated everything Seattle tried to accomplish on offense. This week, Sheard will often do battle with 49ers RT Anthony Davis, one of the worst players at this position in the league. Expect another great showing for Sheard.
|Andy Dalton, Bengals QB (second round, No. 35)
Dalton was on bye Sunday and will visit the Seahawks in Week 8. Crowd noise and a very good front seven could cause the rookie signal-caller trouble, but Seattle is weak versus the pass. Expect Dalton to stay on this list next week.
|DeMarco Murray, Cowboys RB (third round, No. 71)
Needless to say, Murray's debut as the Cowboys' starting running back was a massive success.
|Tyron Smith, Cowboys OT (first round, No. 9)
Smith and his Cowboys counterparts totally dismantled the hapless Rams. And Smith greatly helped to get rookie teammate Murray going while also keeping QB Tony Romo clean in the pocket. Keep an eye on this very talented bookend on Sunday night in Philadelphia, which could be a very difficult test.
|Adrian Clayborn, Buccaneers DE (first round, No. 20)
Clayborn is still part of a rotation at defensive end, with all the young talent in Tampa Bay up front. But he is really making his snaps count, as he did once again versus Chicago in London.
|Marcell Dareus, Bills DT (first round, No. 3)
Dareus was on bye Sunday. It looked as though he was really turning the corner before the bye. This week off could do him a lot of good. Next up, the Bills host a Redskins team that has suffered a few injuries on offense. Dareus could feast.
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