IRVING, Texas – Thanks to the ever-forward-thinking approach of head coach Jason Garrett, the Cowboys aren’t exactly a reflective team.
Looking back to the past or comparing feelings from now to then is usually not a well-supported practice around Valley Ranch.
But running back Joseph Randle really couldn’t help himself when asked Thursday if the juices will be flowing a little more come Sunday night vs. the Giants.
“I would have to say more,” Randle said. “Yeah, get more reps and more game reps. It’s exciting. With a good opponent coming in. I’m extremely excited.”
Randle, a fifth-round pick of the Cowboys in 2013, has spent two years behind DeMarco Murray, who has since signed with the Eagles. In spot-duty last year, Randle rushed for 343 yards on 51 carries, with a team-best 6.7 yards per carry.
On the other side of the locker room, Darren McFadden echoed the same sentiments. Right now, it appears the Cowboys are leaning toward Randle as the starter, but McFadden knows a thing or two about splitting carries, having done it at both Arkansas and with the Raiders the last seven years.
“I’m just excited to get out there with my teammates,” McFadden said. “You just want an opportunity to play. When my number gets called, I’ll be ready. That’s really all you can do.”
Both players didn’t seem too fazed by the addition of veteran Christine Michael, who was added via trade on Sunday.
“They’re going to do what they’ve got to do,” Randle said of the Cowboys’ front-office personnel. “That’s their job. That’s way above my head. I have to make sure I do whatever I have to do to be on the team.”
Michael said he’s taking a “one-day-at-a-time” approach when asked about his availability for Sunday. Even if the Cowboys make him active, it seems likely that Randle and McFadden will carry the workload, with possibly third-down reps going to Lance Dunbar.
When asked if the Cowboys were lacking a physical presence in the backfield like they had with Murray, Garrett dismissed the notion.
“I think we feel really good about our backs, “Garrett said. “Joe Randle has proven he can be an inside runner. He’s proven he can be an outside runner. He can be an explosive runner when he’s gotten opportunities in NFL games for us last year. Go back and watch the tape. There is a lot of evidence of that and certainly McFadden has been able to do that throughout his career, in college and the NFL when he’s been healthy. So I feel good about those guys being able to do whatever we ask them to do at a high level.”
And there’s a thought the Cowboys are simply waiting until the season begins to name a full-time starter. But offensive coordinator Scott Linehan makes it sound like a clear-cut starter isn’t necessary, pointing out his first season in the NFL with the Vikings, who led the NFL in rushing despite having a lead back (Michael Bennett) with just 252 carries.[embeddedad0]
“We had a back that had probably 60 percent of the carries and then we had two backs that had the other 40 percent,” Linehan said. “So you can be effective with guys as long as they are playing and running and doing the things you are asking them to do. Last year was unique. It was certainly a great testament to DeMarco and our team last year, but he’s not here anymore. This year you have to define yourself a different way. I feel like being able to do it similar but a different way, maybe with two, three guys doing it, is for sure part of our plan, but also very doable.”