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Roster Rundown: Bright Future For Tanner Faded Last Season

Posted Feb 12, 2013

(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players’ impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2013 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features running back Phillip Tanner.)

Name: Phillip Tanner
Position: Running Back
Height/Weight: 5-10 / 217
Experience: 2 seasons
College: Middle Tennessee State  

Did You Know?: Tanner was the last player Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis tackled before sitting out 11 weeks with a triceps injury. Lewis left the field immediately after a collision with Tanner during the Oct. 14 game in Baltimore.

Contract Status: Signed through 2013.

2012 Impact:I had plenty of hope for Tanner as we all left for California and training camp. My problem is that I like the kid too much and wanted to see him do well. I like his personality and how he handles himself in that locker room. But putting that aside, where there was a drop-off for Tanner this season was as a pass blocker. He went from being a good blocker to one that was a liability and the coaches lost some confidence in him. There was never a question about his toughness and if you handed him the ball you were going to get his best. The way he finished the Carolina game was a great example of that. When it came to blitz pickup and even some reps on the special teams, it was a struggle for him to handle the job consistently. It bothers coaches to put players in the game that might break down at crucial points during a contest and there were times where you saw this with Tanner. When the coaches started taking him off teams, I knew that his season
was over.   

Where He Fits: For 2013 it would not surprise me one bit if the front office and coaches go a different direction at running back behind DeMarco Murray. With Felix Jones out of the mix I believe that Lance Dunbar will remain on the squad as the third back and special team player but look for them to try and upgrade the position with a more every down type of back. This draft has plenty of options in the area where they would most likely consider one which doesn’t help Tanner’s chances to be here in the Fall.

Writers' Analysis:

Nick Eatman: At one point last season, I had high expectations Tanner would be able to carry the load with DeMarco Murray out and prove to be a viable option in the backfield. He got his chances against Baltimore and Carolina and while he showed some hard-nosed running, he wasn’t that effective as a complete back. By the end of the year, the Cowboys thought Lance Dunbar was a better option. You wonder if Tanner’s shot has come and gone. He’s been here two years and if it appears Murray and Dunbar are ahead of him on the depth chart and it’s likely a new back will be added to the mix and probably squeeze Tanner out of the equation. He needs to have a strong offseason which isn’t easy for a running back until there is contact.
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