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Dunbar Gives Offense Big Spark With Career-High Performance
ARLINGTON, Texas – Lance Dunbar will undergo an MRI on Friday for what appears to be a hyperextended knee.
The Cowboys didn’t have many details on the injury immediately following their 31-24 win against Oakland on Thursday. But it looks possible the diminutive running back’s problems might not be as bad as originally thought.
“He’s had a hyperextension there. We’ll take a look at it,” said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. “We’ve got two weeks, but it could be a week or so on that. But he’s in great spirits.”
He might not be out of the woods yet, but Dunbar said he feels much better than he did immediately after taking a blow to the knee in the fourth quarter. The injury marred a breakout performance for the second-year player, who led all rushers with 82 yards on 12 carries.
“At first I thought it was pretty bad, but it’s eased up,” Dunbar said. “I think I’ll be alright, but yeah I was scared. I didn’t know, but it could have been bad – how it happened.”
Instead of ruminating on an abrupt end to his season, Dunbar was free to reflect on an unlooked-for but outstanding second half performance. The 5-8 running back didn’t take his first carry until the Cowboys’ first possession of the second half, which he took six yards.
“We’ve talked about this before – he is quick, he’s explosive, but he’s small,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “Having said that, he is still a physical player, doesn’t get knocked around too much in there and always seems to fall forward and make some positive plays for us.”
His second carry came on the next play, and Dunbar ripped it through the heart of Oakland’s defense for 45 yards – a run he thought he was taking to the end zone.
“Yeah, I did. I was trying to pick my feet up because I thought he was going to dive,” Dunbar said. “That probably slowed me up, and he got me.”
The breakout performance, played in front of a national Thanksgiving audience, can’t be quite classified as a surprise. Onlookers have been calling for Dunbar to have an improved role for quite some time – Jones among them.
“Boy, he hit those dang holes quick, and you could see that,” Jones said.
There’s no denying the stats, though. Dunbar entered the Oakland game with 24 touches on the season. His 13 touches against Oakland was more than a 50 percent increase. He didn’t know what the reasoning was for the increased role, but he wasn't complaining.
“I don’t know what happened, they just called my name and I went in there and played,” he said. “I don’t ask no questions.”
The spark the speedster provided was evident to anyone watching. Dunbar averaged a whopping 6.8 yards per carry, and he provided the perfect complement to DeMarco Murray, who finished with 63 yards and a career-high three touchdowns on 17 carries.
“It was huge, it was huge. He came in and gave us a huge spark – ran it extremely well,” Murray said. “He’s a really good back. You mix it up a little bit more, because they don’t know what you’re going to do.”
Now, the hope is that the Cowboys won’t have to wait to utilize their newfound weapon. Dallas has an 11-day break before playing Monday Night Football in Chicago on Dec. 9.
With his leg already feeling better in the postgame locker room, Dunbar said he liked his odds.
“I’m pretty tough. I’ll fight through it,” he said.