SAN DIEGO – Running backs coach Skip Peete will have his work cut out for him when the Cowboys slim down to a 53-man roster.
Felix Jones is coming off shoulder surgery, Phillip Tanner is recovering from hand surgery and Lance Dunbar is just returning from a hamstring injury. Jamize Olawale, a converted fullback, has taken a majority of the snaps at running back while Tanner and Dunbar work their way back in.
What have you seen from Olawale?
Peete: "Coming out of high school, I want to say he was a running back and switched to wide receiver and played wide receiver in junior college and eventually switched to an H-back and kind of spent that as his college career. But he has some ability to run the football and he's a big guy that has speed and power, so that helps if you're a running back with size and power."
When trying to decide if there's a spot for him here, how do you compare the backs?
Peete: "Dunbar was doing very well before he got injured, and same thing with Phillip Tanner. Those guys are two very talented, quality runners and halfbacks. Jamize has come on and had a couple good weeks. Hopefully, he'll continue to work hard and continue to improve. It should be an interesting discussion at the end of the day."
Does he have more power than Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray?
Peete: "He's a bigger guy. He's 235 pounds. Obviously, you're going to have a little bit more thrust when you hit the line. Whether or not he has any more power, that I don't know. I think he's still learning to play that position. I think he's learning to get his pads down a little more to be able to deliver a blow to the defense. I think once he masters all that stuff, he could be a forced to be reckoned with."
How far behind is Dunbar?
Peete: "He's got to get back in there and get a feel. Like he said today, it felt foreign to him. But he's a talented runner. He's a much better protector than I anticipated being a guy his size. That's a plus that was very impressive the first couple of days of practice. He's a very explosive player and very dangerous. I'm excited to see what he can do in a preseason game."
With Tanner too, is it tough to have just one preseason game to show what he's got?
Peete: "He's mentally into what we're doing, he understands what we're doing, he has a good feel of our offense. We've just got to get an opportunity to get him in there and get to work running, carrying the ball, running routes, catching the ball, and all those things. But he was doing fine before he got injured."