OXNARD, Calif. – Everything's in place for DeMarco Murray to thrive.
After finishing last in the league defensively, it was an already improved offensive line the Cowboys chose to bolster with another first-round selection. They've made an investment to be stellar upfront offensively.
Along with that has to be a stout rushing attack. Everyone from owner/general manager Jerry Jones to executive vice president Stephen Jones to head coach Jason Garrett have emphasized the need for a better running game considering the players on the offensive line and the guy running the ball.
"It's great," Murray said. "Like I said, those guys work extremely hard. Those five guys, we're excited to have each and every last one of them. They all bring a different thing to the table. Great group of guys, love running behind them, love spending time with them. You get a feel for each other."
Saying the rushing attack will be better is one thing. Actually doing it, and giving Murray a chance to be among the best backs in the league, is another.
Murray recorded his first 1,000-yard season in 2013, rushing for 1,121 yards and nine touchdowns and averaging 5.2 yards per carry en route to his first Pro Bowl appearance. He also set career highs in receptions (53) and receiving yards (350), while scoring the first receiving touchdown of his career to cap off a Week 16 victory against the Redskins.
"We feel great about him," Garrett said. "He's a really versatile back. That's one of the things we really liked about him coming out of school. He was very productive as a rusher. He could come out of the backfield, motion out of the backfield, be an effective receiver. He's a willing blocker. He's strong and physical in pass protection.
Photos from Tuesday's afternoon practice in Oxnard.
There aren't many things that we have in our offense that we wouldn't ask him to do. He's just really a versatile back and knows how to play the game."
Despite the strong numbers, his 217 carries were 97 fewer than LeSean McCoy got and 59 fewer than Alfred Morris had.
Murray finished 10th in the league in rushing yards last year, yet he was the only ball-carrier in that group with fewer than 250 rushing attempts. Of that group of top 10 rushers, only Murray and Jamaal Charles got fewer than 260 carries, and Charles had 259.
Some of that had to do with the two missed games by Murray, but even if he played those two games, it's unlikely he'd have reached the amount of carries Morris had. There's no way he would have gotten close to McCoy.
The idea this year is Murray will help lead this offense, but Murray knows not to comment too much until it actually happens.
"I don't know, we'll see," Murray said when asked if he'd get more carries this year. "We'll find out."
Murray was also told about Stephen Jones' comments about boasting a top 10 rushing attack this year, to which Murray responded that he'd see at the end of the year.
Whether or not it actually happens, everyone's discussing the possibility of possessing one of the better rushing attacks in the league after investing heavily in the offensive line. Even if Murray knows he has to wait to see if it'll actually happen, there's a different feel that the commitment to the run could come to fruition this year. [embedded_ad]
"I think you can say that when the head guys say that, but like I said, you've got to do it," Murray said. "You can talk till you're blue in the face, but you've got to do it and see where the games are. Obviously if we're down a little bit, we're not going to run the ball, and vice versa. It all depends on where the game is going."
Murray said he doesn't get frustrated when he's not getting carries – only when the offense doesn't play well and loses. In Murray's words, if the team's winning, he's "a happy camper."
Given their record, one can infer he was only a happy camper half the time last year and half the time since he's been in the league. If the Cowboys are to change their fate and hop above .500, Murray and a reliable rushing attack will likely be one of the main reasons why.
"We know from what's been said, it looks like we're going to do a lot of that this year," Murray said. "So we're excited."