IRVING, Texas – The roles and production in the Cowboys' new running back rotation will be watched closely again this week with DeMarco Murray and his new team, the Eagles, up next on the schedule.
As for Sunday night's 27-26 comeback win over the Giants, the Cowboys were pleased overall with the way Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden handled 22 combined carries for 81 yards in their first regular-season game replacing Murray, who set a single-season franchise record with 1,845 rushing yards in 2014.
Randle made the start Sunday and had a team-high 16 carries for 65 yards. McFadden entered the game in the second quarter on the third offensive series and wound up with six carries for 16 yards.
The longest run was Randle's 15-yard gain around the left end on the opening drive.
"I thought when we ran the ball, it was efficient," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "We'd like to pop a few long runs. But I didn't think that our running game was a concern at all. There were some things that were there. It was just a weird game. We had a couple of drives that seemed normal, and then we were in a two-minute drill."
The Cowboys finished with an unbalanced 45-to-22 pass-run ratio and particularly went pass-heavy in the second half once the Giants took a 10-point lead. Garrett pointed out that four of the Cowboys' 10 total possessions were two-minute type situations based on score and time – two at the end of the first half and two at the end of the game.
"Sometimes when you get into that mode you're not in your regular offense, using different personnel, having the balance that you need," Garrett said.
Lance Dunbar, the other back in the current three-man committee, didn't have a carry but led the Cowboys with 70 receiving yards on eight catches, including two straight to start the Cowboys' winning six-play touchdown drive in the final two minutes.
Randle and McFadden added 61 combined receiving yards, too, including Randle's impressive one-handed grab for 19 yards on third-and-1 in the third quarter.
"There's always room for improvement," Randle said. "We'll go back to the drawing board and we'll keep grinding, keep getting better and get ready for next week."
The potential fourth back in the committee, Christine Michael, was inactive a week after getting traded to Dallas from the Seahawks. Garrett said Michael had a productive week learning the offense.
"He got acclimated to how we do things here and he's trying to understand our system and he's worked hard, both in the meetings and after practice to try to get himself to understand what we're doing," Garrett said. "He's made a lot of progress in a short period of time."