IRVING, Texas – It’s possible that Sammy Morris could go from the couch to the Cowboys’ starting lineup in a span of two weeks.
The Cowboys hope Felix Jones’ tight hamstring won’t prevent him from playing Saturday against the Eagles. However, if Jones can’t play, the Cowboys’ starter will be a 34-year-old who thought he was done with football until the Cowboys called last week.
“It just shows you how fast things can change,” Morris said. “I thought my life was going in this direction, and it ends up going in the other direction. You just never know what you are going to get, and you just got to be prepared for whatever does happen.”
Morris, a 12-year veteran, was cut by the New England Patriots at the end of the preseason. After a couple of months without hearing from another team, Morris assumed his football career was over, although he continued to train.
He finally heard from a team when Dallas developed a desperate need at running back. The Cowboys signed him to replace DeMarco Murray when the rookie star went on injured reserve due to a fractured ankle. Rookie Phillip Tanner, the Cowboys’ third-string back, had been placed on injured reserve the previous week with a strained hamstring.
Four days after signing, Morris carried 12 times for 53 yards, quite an impressive feat given the circumstances. The Cowboys might need even more from Morris, a teammate of coach Jason Garrett’s with the 2004 Dolphins, against the Eagles on Saturday.
Morris has gotten much more work during this week’s practices with Jones not participating. But the graybeard back says his approach hasn’t changed.
“It's not really complicated,” Morris said. “It's help the team win, whether it's five carries or 25.”
It’s a challenge for Morris to learn the Cowboys’ system and verbiage on the fly despite his high football IQ. And it’s asking a lot physically for somebody who has never been a featured back to move into that role in such a high-stakes game at his age.
“You think about both of those things,” running backs coach Skip Peete said. “Obviously here is somebody who is not really doing a whole lot probably besides working out on his own or with a personal trainer. Now you’re asking him to go in an NFL game and carry the ball quite a bit and pass protect and do all those things he did. Plus, not make mistakes to hurt you.”
The Cowboys hope they don’t have to ask that much of Morris.