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 48 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on the running backs.
48) Do the Cowboys have a consistent "home-run" threat at running back?
DeMarco Murray took a sweep right, hit a player, broke two tackles, went left, ran into Lawrence Vickers and then bounced up the right sideline for a 48-yard gain against the Giants in the opener.
That broken play would be the Cowboys' longest run of the season and Murray's only scamper of 30 or more yards. Murray did miss six games and recorded four games with at least one carry of 20 or more yards. He also had a 91-yard carry the year prior.
But it remains a question whether or not the Cowboys have a legitimate, consistent home-run threat in the backfield; a player threatening to take the distance on any play.
That was supposed to be change of pace back Felix Jones, but he's no longer in a Cowboys uniform and his longest run last season went for only 22 yards. After recording a 60-yard run in 2008, he never again ran for 60 or more yards on a play the remainder of his tenure in Dallas.
Murray tends to welcome contact with defenders rather than avoiding it. He's been a bruiser, capable of turning any negative play into a positive. But he's had trouble finding the end zone – along with the rest of the Cowboys backs – scoring just six rushing touchdowns in two seasons.
The Oklahoma product, who ran a 4.41 at the NFL Combine, certainly has the speed to break more plays loose like the 48-yard scamper. If Murray can stay on the field, it's possible he can be that home-run threat. That player could also be the speedy, quick Lance Dunbar or fifth-round pick Joseph Randle.
If the Cowboys can't find a big-play threat in the backfield, it'll be difficult to get the rushing touchdown total where they hope it can be.
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 48:
- No player wore the No. 48 in Cowboys' history quite as well as Daryl "Moose" Johnston. The versatile Moose was a mainstay in the Dallas backfield from 1989-99, paving the way for Emmitt Smith to carve his storied legacy.
- Johnston is the only Cowboys player to wear the No. 48 for more than one season.
- Thomas Henderson's 48-yard kickoff return against Pittsburgh in January 1976 is the fourth-longest Cowboys' return in their playoff history.
- Brandon Carr finished with 48 solo tackles last season, according to coaches' film. He was forced to spend some time at safety in addition to cornerback after various injuries to the defense throughout the year. He and Morris Claiborne are expected to be counted on more as tacklers and containers in Monte Kiffin's defense.
- Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin are two of the franchise's most decorated receivers ever. They're also the only two players to score exactly 48 points apiece in their playoff careers, each scoring eight playoff touchdowns.