IRVING, Texas - Earlier this week, DeMarco Murray shrugged when asked if he was concerned with his increasing number of rushing attempts.
Murray didn't seem to think it will be an issue moving forward.
Maybe "concern" isn't the same word the Cowboys are using. But it's certainly something they are monitoring. And it started even before Sunday's game with the Seahawks, where Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar got more time in the backfield.
But Murray still finished up with 29 carries for the third time this year. In fact, Murray's three highest totals for rushing attempts have occurred this year. His 31 carries against Houston two weeks ago is a career-high, just ahead of the 29 totes he had Sunday in Seattle and back in Week 2 in Tennessee.
"We're certainly talking about it. I think last week we got Joe (Randle) in and Dunbar in more," Cowboys director of player personnel Stephen Jones said on Thursday. "We'll do the same. I don't think anyone wants to see him well over 30. That's happened a few times. The goal is to keep getting Joe and Dunbar some touches, so we don't expose him that many times. He's done an incredible job."
Murray doesn't just lead the NFL in rushing yards with 785, but his 159 rushing attempts are starting to gain just as much attention. His 26.5 carry average equates out to 424 carries, which would set the NFL record for a single season, currently held by Larry Johnson, who had 416 attempts in 2006.
"He's carrying the load, well over 30 touches a game. He's taking it all on," Jones added. "At the same time, he's unselfish, too. If we need to manage it a little more and get (Randle) in there for some carries, and get Dunbar in there for some carries, he doesn't even blink. He's just a very unselfish guy. He sees it as a means for us to win. Obviously with him getting his carries and being as successful as we've been, we seem to be successful when he is."
Head coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys will continue to give Murray plenty of reps, but he will share the load like he did last week in Seattle.[embeddedad0]
"The biggest thing is you want to continue to run the ball well. And DeMarco's a big part of that," Garrett said. "But at the same time, we'd like to get the other guys some opportunities. We did some of that the other day. And we think that's good. We think that's good for the individual guys, DeMarco included, but also getting Joseph and Lance chances out there because they've done well with them. It obviously keeps him fresher during the game and over the course of the season. But he's going to carry the ball a lot."
Murray missed Wednesday's practice because of an illness but returned Thursday with full participation.