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 35 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on the backup running back spot.
35) How Much Will Joseph Randle Contribute This Season?
Joseph Randle was selected in the fifth round of the draft to provide stability to a position that needs as much depth as it can get after injuries in recent years.
DeMarco Murray's provided some dazzling carries when he's on the field. The problem is he hasn't demonstrated an ability to stay on the field through a full season his two years in the league.
Murray played in 13 games his rookie year and just 10 games last season, as he nursed a foot injury. Randle, who will wear the No. 35 this year, is supposed to come in immediately as the No. 2 running back. He's expected to take the bulk of the carries if Murray ever goes down again.
But the Cowboys haven't gotten a look at Randle at all thus far, as he's missed the entire offseason with a thumb injury. He's sported a cast and worked out on the sideline throughout Organized Team Activities and minicamp.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the carries have gone to Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner, with rookie free agent Kendial Lawrence also getting into the mix.
Randle will only have training camp and the preseason to make his mark after a late start. His propensity for finding the end zone while taking the bulk of the carries at Oklahoma State needs to translate to the professional level for the Cowboys to jumpstart their rushing game.
The Cowboys won't get much time to see their rookie before deciding how to use him, and the other running backs are also trying to make their case.
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 35:
- The number's fluctuated between positions in the past. Lonyae Miller wore the No. 35 in 2010. Going back further, safety Tra Battle had it in 2008, cornerback Jacques Reeves had it from 2004-07 and fullback Jason McKie wore it in 2002.
- The last running back to wear the No. 35 before Miller was Troy Hambrick, who also wore the No. 42. The most notable running back to wear the No. 35 was Calvin Hill, who donned the jersey from 1969-74.
- Fullback Robert Newhouse was the only Cowboys player to be selected with the 35st overall pick, going to Dallas in 1972. Despite playing fullback, he led the Cowboys in rushing in 1975 with 930 yards. He'd go on to play with the team through 1983, starting off and on through the 1980 season.
- Dez Bryant was ranked the No. 35 best player in the league in NFL.com's annual Top 100 players list this year.
- Emmitt Smith holds the Cowboys' record for most rushing attempts in a playoff game with 35, set in 1996 against Green Bay. Last season, a Cowboys running back reached the 20-carry mark in a game just three times.