IRVING, Texas – Standing roughly 15 feet away from the NFL's leading rusher, Jason Witten seemed pretty prescient in choosing his workout partner for the offseason.
DeMarco Murray continues to rack up carries – an average of 27 per game – on the way to an absurd output, as he's on track for more than 400 carries and 2,000 yards. It's fitting, then, that he chose a 12-year veteran at the physical tight end position to train with during the buildup to this season.
"It helped a lot, obviously with the stamina aspect just building a good armor for your body so you can take some hits and take the pounding of a long season," Murray said. "He's done it for a long time and he's someone who has had a lot of success in this league and he knows what to do to take care of your body in season and out of season."
Witten sported a knowing smile Friday when asked about his workout sessions with Murray. To hear it from the Pro Bowl tight end, the Cowboys' transformation into a dominant run team is something you could see coming in the spring and summer months.
"I invited him to come work out with me and kind of be a partner. I knew it was good for me to be with a young guy that can push you," Witten said. "Obviously he's physically talented. I had kind of known that was the way our team was going and what we were trying to mold ourselves into."
The younger of the duo certainly did push the older. Witten said he'd often come into the Cowboys' facility feeling sore from workouts, only to see Murray feeling fine.
"He's everything you want in a teammate from that standpoint," Witten said. "It was good to work out with him that way because I kept telling him, November and December this will pay off for us, the work that we put in."
The Cowboys have to be hoping Witten's words are prophetic in that sense, too. Aside from his massive yardage total, the main storyline surrounding Murray is his gigantic carry count. His 187 attempts are 61 more than any other NFL running back, and he's logged 80 percent of the Cowboys' 235 team carries.
Murray has said himself, on plenty occasions, that he doesn't care about the carry count. Asked about the physical toll of carrying the ball in the NFL, Witten echoed that sentiment – not just for Murray, but for any player.
[embeddedad0]"I don't think he worries about the carries or how many he's gotten. He's just a competitor. He wants to play once he's out there. I think for all of us you want to be used to the fullest of your ability," he said.
"If you need a breather, you get out for one and get back in there. I don't think players worry about that. I understand coaches do and how they kind of get him his rest. But I don't think players worry about it. I know DeMarco doesn't."
As much credit might go to the Dallas offensive line, and it has, Witten was quick to praise the guy with the beefy stat line. Murray is quick to shy away from the limelight, but he's doing enough to make it unavoidable – thanks in part to his work in the offseason.
"He's strong. He's powerful. I know a lot of the credit is going to the offensive line as it should, but he does a really good job back there," Witten said.