IRVING, Texas – Amid mass speculation about Joseph Randle's off-field status, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett all but ruled him out of Sunday's game against Seattle – but for football-related reasons.
"We don't anticipate Joe playing this week because of his injury. He has to take care of this personal issue," Garrett said.
Randle didn't practice Wednesday because of the oblique strain he suffered last weekend. But his personal issue prompted him to leave the Cowboys' Valley Ranch facility, causing widespread discussion about his reasoning for doing so. Garrett declined to delve into details about the matter, but he said it was not related to reports about a possible NFL suspension.
"It's a different issue," he said.
It's been a whirlwind 24 or so hours for the Cowboys' third-year running back. Randle reported to practice on Wednesday and did rehab work on the oblique injury, but he did not participate. Garrett said he left the facility to tend to the personal matter, and that it was an excused absence.
"Don't really want to get into that situation very much," Garrett said. "The biggest issue with Joe is take care of the injury, get himself healthy and hopefully work though some of these personal issues."
Reports originally surfaced that Randle had left after learning of his demotion as the Cowboys' starting running back. Garrett declared earlier in the week that Darren McFadden would enter this weekend's game against Seattle as the starter after carrying the ball 29 times for 152 yards against New York.
To compound the matter, more reports – released early Thursday morning – stated that Randle is in line for possible NFL discipline for violating the league's personal conduct policy last February when he was arrested in his hometown of Wichita, Kan.
"I don't want to get into any of that," Garrett said.
Randle won't practice Thursday while he continues to cope with the problem, which at least partially clears things up for the Cowboys. There isn't much confirmation one way or another but what awaits Randle, or whether he will in fact be suspended. Garrett reiterated that he wants him focused on his rehab.
"He is just addressing a personal issue. That is all there is about it," he said. "He is trying to get himself healthy. He did a little work in practice yesterday and he is trying to take care of this thing. He took care of it yesterday. He is taking care of it today. Hopefully everything is good."
Whatever other information comes to light, it sounds as though the oblique strain will be enough to sideline Randle against the Seahawks. For the time being, they can go forward with the trio of McFadden, Christine Michael and Rod Smith.
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