Now Healthy, Workload A Question For Murray

According to running back DeMarco Murray, his fractured ankle is fully recovered, and he would be ready to play if there were a game this Sunday. There isn't.

But next week, the Cowboys kick off their month-long Organized Team Activity (OTA) series, and Murray is expected to be a full participant.

"I'm definitely cleared and ready to go," Murray said at this week's golf tournament. "That is the truth."

Once the season finally does come around, there's no doubt Murray will be the Cowboys' primary ball-carrier. The question becomes, then, just how much should Murray be used?

There are very few every-down backs in the league anymore, and until Murray, the Cowboys certainly hadn't had one since Emmitt Smith. Murray showed great stamina and durability during his breakout stretch as a rookie, totaling 25 touches or more in five of six games, all of which were Cowboys wins.

It wasn't long afterward, however, that he broke his ankle against the Giants on only his fifth carry. It's not that the stress of being used so often in the middle of the year contributed to the injury, but it stands to reason that the more Murray is used, the more often he'll be exposed to freak accidents.

Even the indestructable Adrian Peterson blew out his knee late in 2011.

Alongside the consideration that must be given to Murray's potential for injury if he is constantly touching the ball 20 or more times per game, the Cowboys have to ask themselves what is Murray's threshold for diminishing returns.

It's the same question that has been asked here for years, first with Marion Barber and then with Felix Jones.

Believe it or not, head coach Jason Garrett wasn't all that committal about the backfield rotation when it came up this week.

"We'll have to see how it all plays out," Garrett said. "We think we have three viable guys . . . It's an important position, and you have to be careful how you divvy up that work. DeMarco has proven to us, as Felix has, that they can be inside runners and outside runners, and we've got to make sure that each of those guys gets their opportunities."

Until then, Murray is working to get himself in the best shape possible. The better condition he's in, the more he should be able to handle.

"You definitely have to work your way back after being out for so long," Murray said. "You definitely have time to continue to put a little more weight on, put a little more muscle on, and I've done a great job with that, with coach (Mike) Woicik in the weight room. I'm keeping my weight exactly where I want to be, not getting too heavy and not getting too light, so we've worked together pretty well, and I'm excited for this year."

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