(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2013 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features running back DeMarco Murray.)
Name: DeMarco Murray
Position: Running Back
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 215
Experience: 2 seasons
Key stat: In less than two games, Church didn't accumulate many stats, garnering just eight tackles, including five solo stops.
Contract Status: Signed through 2014.
How He Played In 2012: In a season where injuries were a major factor in the performance of the team, no injury was as difficult to weather as the one that DeMarco Murray suffered. When Murray went down against the Ravens and missed the next six games, it changed the dynamic of the offense to the point where it affected the quarterback, offensive line and the play caller as well. The offensive responsibility was now on the shoulders of Tony Romo and for all the games where he was able to carry the load, it was
Murray that gave this offense balance and without him the threat to run the ball was just not there. I remember talking to offensive line coach Bill Callahan after Murray returned to the lineup against the Eagles in December and you could just tell in his voice what it meant to have him once again in the backfield. Murray's ability at times more than made up for some of the issues that the line was having in blocking for the running game. With Murray if plays were not blocked clean and there were plenty times that happen, through vision and skill, he was able to bend a ball to the backside or keep his balance like he did against the Bengals to convert a key third down to get Dan Bailey in field goal range. With Murray in the lineup, it made Garrett a better player caller. Murray's ability helped keep Garrett and Romo ahead of the chains which made the game more manageable. With him in the lineup there were now options where before he and the staff had to come up with creative ways to use Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar which just didn't result in answers and the result of that showed in wins and loses.
Where He Fits:There is no question that Murray will be the starter in 2013 but it has been two seasons in his young career where injury has caused him to miss time. Injuries are a part of the game but this club needs to find a way to keep him on the field for the entire season. I do not see Felix Jones returning so that leaves the question of Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar as backups. I would not be one bit surprised if they move on from Tanner and draft a running back that can shoulder the load with Murray and give him the opportunity to try and make it through an entire season or if injury strikes [embedded_ad] again, that back can step in a take the full-time role. There are several in the upcoming NFL Draft that can do just that to help Murray.
Rowan Kavner: Last year demonstrated just how valuable Murray is to this team. The running game struggled all season, but no more than when Murray was out for six weeks. He's the one back on the team who can wear down a defense and break tackles and huge gains at any moment. The question he hasn't answered is if all the bruising hits he takes and delivers can ever lead to a full season. He's played in 23 games in his first two years in the NFL, and the Cowboys couldn't afford to lose him last year. Gaining 663 yards rushing in a season isn't enough for him. He's a complete back whose future is bright if he can stay on the field.