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25) How Will Lance Dunbar Be Used On Offense This Year?
IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is still in sight.
Coming off two straight 8-8 seasons and three full seasons removed from the playoffs, the Cowboys have plenty of question marks surrounding them as they prepare for the 2013 season.
As we count down the days to camp, the writers of DallasCowboys.com will take a different question each day that is hovering over this team.
With 25 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today’s question centers on a former North Texas running back.
25) Can Lance Dunbar Find A Permanent Role On Offense?
The Cowboys didn’t get to see much of the No. 25 in the backfield last season.
Lance Dunbar was more visible on special teams, where he led the team in every major kickoff return category, totaling 12 kickoff returns for an average of 21.8 yards per return with a long of 44 yards. He also added six tackles on special teams.
His contributions on special teams outweighed those at running back, where he finished with 75 rushing yards and 3.6 yards per carry. He also added six catches for 33 yards.
That latter stat may be where he can add the most to the Cowboys’ offense. Dunbar’s displayed soft hands in recent practices and his elusiveness, which the Cowboys value most about his skill set, could lead to big gains in open space.
Dunbar can make people miss. He may well be the quickest back on the team and his different style of play from DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle could be useful for the Cowboys. The way that owner/general manager Jerry Jones has talked about him, it would be a surprise not to see him make the final roster.
The Cowboys will need to be creative to find reps for him in the backfield with Murray healthy and the addition of Randle.
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let’s take a closer look at the number 25:
- The No. 25 has belonged to mostly safeties in recent history. Tony Dixon wore the No. 25 and the No. 42 from 2001-05, while Pat Watkins took over the No. 25 from 2006-09. It went to cornerback Frank Walker in 2011.
- The Cowboys have had the No. 25 overall pick four times in their history. They used that pick first in 1971 on Tody Smith, then in 1982 on Rod Hill, again in 1984 on Billy Cannon, Jr. and most recently in 2008 on Mike Jenkins.
- Murray holds the Cowboys’ record for the biggest rushing day, sprinting for 253 yards against the Rams on Oct. 23, 2011. He managed to do that on just 25 carries, averaging more than 10 yards a carry.
- Phillip Tanner finished the 2012 season with 25 carries, finishing fourth on the team behind Murray, Felix Jones and Tony Romo. Dunbar was fifth with 21 carries. Jones also finished the season with 25 receptions.
- Victor Butler ended last season with three sacks, forcing opponents back a total of 25 yards. DeMarcus Ware’s 11.5 sacks totaled 63.5 yards, while Anthony Spencer’s 11 sacks totaled 83 yards.