SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After going through the first preseason game without seeing any of the top three backs, the Cowboys finally got all of them on the field Sunday night.
So what did we learn?
Not a lot about the running backs. If anything, the Cowboys found out even more what it's like to have three starters on the offensive line missing in action.
Without two All-Pros – Tyron Smith and Zack Martin – along with left guard Ron Leary, the Cowboys didn't get the best evaluation from their three backs.
It was the Cowboys debut for Darren McFadden, who got the start and played two series. There wasn't much room to run for the eight-year pro, who rushed for just four yards on three attempts. McFadden caught a pass out of the backfield for three yards.
"For me, I'm just glad to be running around out there with my teammates and fight with them," McFadden said. "We didn't get the things accomplished that we wanted to accomplish out there. But, we'll have to look at the film, get back and try to correct these things and get better for next week."
As for Joseph Randle, who has taken most of the first-team reps during camp with McFadden nursing the hamstring injury, he led the team in both attempts (seven) and rushing yards (30) as he took over in the third series and finished out the first half.
Randle has missed some practices here in the last two weeks with an oblique injury.
"Yeah, we decided this morning. I needed to get out there and get those reps live for the season," Randle said after the game. "You have to get those reps in the preseason, I feel like. That's my personal preference. The sooner I get reps in the preseason, the sooner I'm ready to go for the season."
Randle said Sunday's game showed there is plenty of work still to do.
"It definitely opens our eyes up a little bit," Randle said. "We definitely have a lot of work to do, so we'll get back to the drawing board and back to working hard in practice."
[embeddedad0]Lance Dunbar, who most of the last two weeks with an ankle injury, played most of the first half as the third-down back. While he didn't get a rushing attempt, he did catch two passes for just two yards.
With two preseason games to play, it's likely the Cowboys will only play those three backs in next Saturday's game with the Vikings at AT&T Stadium before resting many of the starters and key contributors in the preseason finale.
So the race for the starting job remains wide open.
"Right now we're just working to get better," McFadden said. "We're not going to worry about (the depth chart) right now. When your number is called you just have to be ready."