IRVING, Texas– New passing game coordinator Scott Linehan has a reputation of being a pass-happy play-caller. But whether or not that's true, or will play out that way in Dallas, Linehan has typically found a way to get his running backs involved one way or another.
Last year in Detroit, Linehan got the best out of Reggie Bush, who rushed for 1,006 yards and had a career-high 1,512 total yards from scrimmage. And while Bush is certainly more accomplished and well-known, there could be some similarities with Cowboys' third-year back Lance Dunbar, who is back from a season-ending knee injury that forced him out of the final four games.
Obviously Linehan has yet to coach Dunbar in a game or even full-contact practice, but likes what he sees so far. And he certainly doesn't dismiss the Bush comparisons.
"Yeah I think he's got some of those kind of traits. He's got ability in space to make plays," Linehan said. "These guys grow up in these systems in college where people spread people out. They put these guys in the game that can run it and catch it."
Making plays really hasn't been a problem for Dunbar in his two years with the club. Staying healthy afterward has been a different story.
In the preseason last August, Dunbar made one of those plays Linehan was talking about in Arizona where he caught a simple underneath pass but turned it inside for a 44-yard gain. However, not only did Dunbar fumble the ball away on the play, but suffered a foot sprain in the process.
Last year against the Raiders on Thanksgiving, Dunbar easily had his best game of his career, rushing for 82 yards before [embedded_ad] suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Dunbar not only is back practicing again, but seems heavily involved in offensive packages with the first-team units. During Monday's OTA practice, Dunbar lined up in three different spots on three different plays, from the tailback spot, to the slot receiver to a wide out position, where he caught a receiver screen.
"He's shown me a nice feel for the game as a runner and a guy who can do some nice things as a receiver, too."