DALLAS, Texas – It's fitting that, as the Cowboys prepare to help host Wrestlemania XXXII at their home stadium on Sunday night, there'd be some parallels between the worlds of football and wrestling.
Darren McFadden was one of many players to join in community outreach between the Cowboys and the WWE this week, as he met with young fans at Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Given the recent signing of Alfred Morris, the question was obvious – is the Cowboys' new running back duo a championship caliber tag-team?
"That would be great, man," McFadden said. "That's something we definitely hope we can accomplish on the field – if we were tag-team champs we'd love that also."
McFadden put together a 1,089-yard season during his first year in Dallas, rewarding the Cowboys' faith for adding him as a free agent last spring. Given the short memory of the NFL, though, it wasn't remotely surprising to see the front office add Morris, who compiled 4,713 yards and two Pro Bowl nods during a four-year stint with Washington.
"He's one of those guys that doesn't wow you necessarily, but he just does a lot of good things that are going to help your football team," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett last week at the NFL's annual meetings.
If anyone expected the move to bother McFadden, that doesn't appear to be the case. The eight-year veteran has faced competition before, including last year against Joseph Randle. After playing sparingly through the first six weeks of the season, he racked up five 100-yard games in the next 11. He also understands the grueling nature of the NFL schedule.
"You know for me as a running back, I know the type of league this is and I know it's hard just to have one go-to guy," he said. "You definitely need another back in there. You know, with us signing another back, is not something that bothers me at all. I'm a guy who doesn't mind competition and things."
To that end, McFadden is hard at work in preparation for 2016. The Cowboys' official offseason program doesn't start for another month, but McFadden has been training at Michael Johnson Performance in the Dallas area. The Arkansas native will turn 29 before the start of this season, and his 239 carries from 2015 were a career high.
"That's the thing for me, the older I get -- one of the things is you can't take as much time off," he said. "That's why I started back early, just try to get back to it and I just want to make sure my body is completely ready and be in the best position I can be in."
Running back remains an intriguing position for the Cowboys as the on-field work draws closer. In addition to signing Morris, the front office brought back Lance Dunbar – though questions abound about how quickly he can return from last year's season-ending injuries. There's also speculation that the Cowboys might look to the future by taking a younger runner in the NFL draft.
None of that seems to shake McFadden's confidence – nor should it, considering the Cowboys' self-stated confidence in him.
"I know that we are pleased and are more confident that McFadden can have more work than we thought at this time last year," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones last week. "I think he does his best when he's got more work. Of course he's had two back-to-back years of good health, and so I'm just thinking ... that if he can pick up right where we left off at the end of the year, he'd end up ... having a lot of the workload."