Monday, October 14, 2013
Who will fill in if Murray is out?
By Tom Carpenter
If there are two things we know about Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray they are that he can rack up big rushing stats and that he will get hurt. True to form, he topped the 90-yard mark three times this season, the 200-yard mark once, chipped in a touchdown in three of his past four games, and exited Sunday's contest with a knee injury. We won't know the extent of the injury until results of a Monday MRI are revealed, but there is some hope that he will be able to play through it, if the sprain is deemed relatively minor.
"Murray has a sprained MCL in his left knee. The team is not sure of the severity of the injury, but Felix Jones played through the injury last season with a heavy tape job on both knees," wrote ESPNDallas.com's Todd Archer.
To whom will the Cowboys turn if Murray is forced to sit out some games?
- Lance Dunbar: Dunbar sports a nice 5.4 YPC this season, but he's only had seven carries and missed Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. He was a non-factor as an undrafted free agent last season and offers little in the way of between-the-tackles play, since he is just 5-foot-8 and 188 pounds.
- Phillip Tanner: He has just three rushing yards on five attempts this season and got only one carry yesterday. He was also an afterthought last season when Murray was sidelined.
- Joseph Randle: The Cowboys leaned on the fifth-round rookie Randle after Murray left Sunday's game. He finished with just 17 yards and a score on 11 rushes. Considering that 14 of those yards came on one rush, that left him with a 0.3 average on his other 10 attempts. He seems to be first in line for the lead job, but it's debatable whether he can make any sort of statistical impact.
- Free agents: They likely will work out some free agents, if Murray is out for an extended stretch, but the trouble is that the likes of Michael Turner, Beanie Wells and Peyton Hillis aren't exactly intriguing replacements. The Cowboys may find some depth there, but they won't find any solutions.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, they face four defenses (@PHI, @DET, MIN, @NO) leading up to their Week 11 bye that have had trouble keeping opposing rushing attacks in check this season, so the team may be able to get by with the players they already have rostered in the interim.
Randle is the player fantasy owners should add, but we should keep expectations limited, because the Cowboys probably will have to use a running back by committee out of necessity. If Murray misses an extended stretch, the Cowboys probably will have to simply throw the ball even more often than they already have been this season.