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Though Return Date Unclear, Cowboys Have "High Hopes" For Dunbar In 2016

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Cowboys aren't certain at what point in 2016 Lance Dunbar will return from last year's season-ending knee injury, but they clearly value his talent when he's on the field.

Dunbar will be back for a fifth season in Dallas after signing a new one-year contract last week. The versatile running back took several free agent visits elsewhere but ultimately chose to return to the offense he led in catches (21) before injuring his ACL and patellar tendon in the fourth game at New Orleans.

He spent the remainder of the 2015 season rehabbing with the team's athletic training staff. It's possible he's cleared at some point in training camp, or he could start the 2016 season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP).

The Cowboys went through a similar process last year with cornerback Mo Claiborne, who tore his patellar tendon in October 2014 and was ready to go for Week 1 in 2015. Claiborne started 11 games last season and also recently re-signed to a one-year deal.

"We have high hopes, no different than Mo (Claiborne) was this time last year," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "We were concerned. We didn't necessarily pencil Mo in for a guy we could count on for the first game, but he ended up surprising and was ready to go."

Every injury is different, though, and the Cowboys aren't committing to a timetable on Dunbar right now. They're just pleased to have him back.

In the meantime, they're looking at options to further address their running back depth behind Darren McFadden. Free agent Alfred Morris is scheduled to visit Valley Ranch on Monday, and drafting a running back has long been considered a possibility.

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