IRVING, Texas – Phillip Tanner's stat line may not look particularly impressive from Saturday's preseason performance, but the way he got the yards and the consistency he demonstrated on the Cowboys' first scoring drive against the Bengals let everyone know he could hang with the first-teamers.
Tanner entered the game at the end of the first quarter with the starting group after DeMarco Murray fumbled and the Cowboys recovered on a drive that began with 7:18 remaining in the first. Tanner took the first three carries of his series, rushing for a first down and keeping the drive going before a Dez Bryant touchdown tied the game.
Murray, Tanner and Joseph Randle each ended up with at least 12 carries apiece in the game. Murray would re-enter the game in the second half and was the only running back with a touchdown, which he caught through the air.
Tanner discussed his opportunity to run with the first-teamers, the team's commitment to the run and Murray's presence after the fumble.
How excited were you to get in there and take advantage of the opportunity with the starters?
Tanner: "I feel as a player, you can't go to practice or into the game thinking about, 'I'm on the bubble,' or, 'Is this my game to shine?' (Gary Brown), the running backs coach, tells us all the time just go out and do what you've been doing since we were in little league. That's all it was. It was just go out and have fun, as if I was playing little league football, and not to put too much pressure on myself."
The Cowboys ran the ball 43 times. How'd it feel to see that commitment?
Tanner: "It felt good, especially as a running back... Of course it does. It's just establishing an identity as an offense. We want to be a physical offense. We've got great guys on the outside… but it feels good for us to be able to have a balanced offense and run the ball with the big guys up front. They make our job a lot easier than what it is."
How important is it that you guys run the ball significantly better than last year?
Tanner: "It's important, just paying attention to details, knowing what the OL wants us to do and the o-line know what we have in mind to do, great blocking with the receivers. It's a team thing. It's not more so on us than it is the offensive line. As we just jell and come together, we'll be a great team." [embedded_ad]
How do you feel DeMarco Murray responded?
Tanner: "That was D-Mo at his finest. I wasn't surprised at all. I actually told the running backs coach, he was like, 'How's D-Mo?' I said, 'Man, I've been around three years, came in Day 1 with him.' I said, 'He's going to go out, he's going to be quiet, he's not going to talk to too many people and he's going to show out,' and that's exactly what he did. D-Mo at his finest."
What was he like while sitting on the sideline?
Tanner: "It was the same thing. Whenever D-Mo makes a mistake, he has the same mindset. He just sits back to himself, calms down, gets himself together and goes out and plays football at its highest level."