IRVING, Texas – Joseph Randle thought before the game he might get some playing time in Week 6. He didn't know at the time he'd get every snap in the second half.
Randle carried the ball 11 times after DeMarco Murray left with a knee injury, and he's ready to handle the workload again this week with Murray unlikely to play.
"It's my chance to earn my check and help the team win," Randle said. "It'll help just having a full week of practice being able to get your mind right and ready to play the whole week knowing that you're going to get a bigger workload."
The Cowboys had prepared Randle to get into the game in past weeks, but it never happened at running back until the win against the Redskins. He wasn't surprised to get in, because they told him prior to the game he might get work on the third series.
It didn't end up happening until the second half, but he got a lot more work than expected with Murray out.
Randle's final stat line doesn't look flashy with 11 carries for 17 yards, but most of those handoffs came to kill the clock late in the game with the defense stacking the box. He said at that point, his focus was on protecting the ball.
"It's the kind of rookie you want on your team," said head coach Jason Garrett. "You don't want them to think it's too big. He's a guy that's played in big games at the college level. He's had success, and he's come in here and he's worked very hard to understand what we're asking him to do, and he's done a good job with each of the opportunities we've given him."
The rookie running back recorded a 14-yard run earlier in the game and barreled in for a touchdown, helped by fellow rookie Travis Frederick, who pushed the pile. Randle said he was hoping someone would give him a boost as he attempted to drive the opposing linebackers into the end zone.
"I was really more thankful that Travis pushed me in at the end right there," Randle said. "I was like, 'Man, I appreciate that.' I wanted him to sign that ball that they gave me at the end, but he was like, 'Nah, man, I can't do that.' Maybe we'll do dinner or something. I've got to figure out something." [embedded_ad]
Randle is just the next player in a long line of rookies making early contributions in their career. Frederick has started every game at center, tight end Gavin Escobar and Terrance Williams each have found the end zone and are major contributors offensively, J.J. Wilcox is now a starter at safety and B.W. Webb and DeVonte Holloman are key special teams contributors.
He said the whole group is close, and he means it in every sense.
"We all live at the same place, show up at each other's' houses any time," Randle said. "B.W. stays right above me... We all stay at the same place. We're a real tight-knit group."
Randle is the lone player in that group who hadn't been able to demonstrate his value through the first five weeks of the season. He said early on it was a grind, and he was trying to find his role and help out however possible, even if it was just in practice.
He's now getting his opportunity in game situations, and after scoring his first career touchdown, he looks forward to whatever else he can provide as the primary back with Murray out.
"You've just got to wait your turn sometimes," Randle said. "That's what the coaches were saying. I listened to them and kept practicing hard and working hard. Now, it's my turn to step up and help the team."