OXNARD, Calif. – If there is one position who can oftentimes to be tough to evaluate in practice, it would be running back.
Sure they have the chance to make a quick cut and show some burst in the open field. And catching the ball out of the backfield is another easy way to evaluate.
But until the pads come on and players are brought to the ground, there's always some initial doubt about a running back and his ability to perform.
Joseph Randle, a fifth-round pick from Oklahoma State, is even further behind considering he missed most of the summer practices with a broken thumb. But in Sunday's scrimmage, Randle flashed some of that playmaking potential that had the Cowboys so excited about him in the first place.
"I thought it was good. Joseph's a good football player, that's why we drafted him where we did," Garrett said on Monday about Randle. "He's big. He looks bigger in pads than maybe he does in the cafeteria. He carries his pads well. He's got quickness and explosiveness. He's not afraid to stick his nose in there and block, either, so a long way to go, but off to a good start."
During Sunday's scrimmage, which included tackling portions with the second- and third-teams, Randle had a few impressive runs, including one touchdown from about 20 yards out, featuring three cutbacks as he weaved through the defense.
Before Sunday, Randle had yet to really shine.
"It's football. Football is a grind. It's a grind, and game days are fun," Randle said. "Practice, you're not supposed to be looking forward to having fun, but if you love what you do, then it'll be fun and you'll respect the grind and the process of it.
"But it's always more fun when the pads come on." [embedded_ad]
Randle may not get excited about practice, but Garrett said he was impressed with the rookie tailback even during the summer when he wasn't even participating in the drills.
"I was really proud of the approach that he took in the spring when he wasn't getting any reps because of his thumb, how engaged he was," Garrett said. "There's a lot of information these guys get every day, and hard to always learn it as well as you can when you're not getting the physical reps, but he stayed engaged. He studies his stuff. He makes mistakes like all the young guys do, but he's learning and then he goes out there and plays fast."
With five preseason games on the schedule, Randle will get plenty of opportunities to showcase all of his talents.
"Yeah, you're going to see a lot of that guy in the next month or so," Garrett said.