OXNARD, Calif. – It's a logical conclusion to come to – that with Darren McFadden missing from the huddle, Joseph Randle has an opportunity to separate himself from the pack as the Cowboys' starting running back.
Predictably, it's not a line of thinking Cowboys coach Jason Garrett wants to hear as he prepares to begin his second week at training camp.
"I don't even want to get into that," he said. "Joseph is off to a great start – there's no question about that. But Lance Dunbar has done a really nice job, and we're trying to give those young backs a look, too."
Randle has looked explosive, and has gotten the majority of the first-team reps in practice. But it would be a disservice to Dunbar to exclude the plays he has made – highlighted by a short touchdown run to cap off Tuesday's two-minute drill in practice.
"I think he's demonstrated to us over time that he's a guy you can give the ball to and give it to him over and over and over again," Garrett said. "Those other guys are different style of backs that probably don't have the versatility that he does, as a route-runner and ability to play out in space, as a receiver."[embeddedad0]
That doesn't even include McFadden, who is expected to return to practice in the near future. It won't stop the chatter about a running back competition, but it's far too early for Garrett to entertain the conversation.
"We don't want to really get into the evaluations quite so much – who's ahead of who and all that kind of stuff. We just want to hopefully create an environment where those guys can get better and show us that they can do the job we're asking them to do."
Here are some more notes from Wednesday's press conference:
- McFadden and Rolando McClain can expect to stay on the Physically Unable to Perform List for at least the time being. Garrett said McFadden is "probably a few days away" from returning from his hamstring injury. McClain is still "a week or two away."
- Garrett was asked about the NFL's decision to move the PAT back to the 15-yard line, and whether that will influence him to call more two-point conversions this season. The Cowboys didn't attempt a single two-point conversion in 2014. "We've always worked on the two-point play, because typically they're critical plays in games," he said. "It'll be interesting to see how it plays out across the league … if those numbers actually spike and go higher."
- Jeremy Mincey worked at left defensive end during his first padded practice on Tuesday afternoon, which was a departure from his traditional role as right defensive end. Garrett said training camp is the time to experiment with moving players around the formation – much like Tyrone Crawford did last summer, moving from end to tackle.
- Sean Lee worked into seven-on-seven drills on Tuesday, which was the first time he has done any reps outside of individual position drills. He didn't participate in the full-team, two-minute drill. The Cowboys continue to be mindful of monitoring Lee's workload as he works his way back from the torn ACL in the spring of 2014.
- Dez Bryant continues to get reps in the return game as the Cowboys continue into their practice sessions. Garrett reiterated that he feels comfortable using Bryant in that aspect – though it's doubtful the Cowboys would tab him for that job full-time.