IRVING, Texas – With Lance Dunbar nursing a sprained left foot that could keep him out of the Cowboys’ season opener, rookie running back Joseph Randle figures to get more work, beginning on Saturday against Cincinnati.
“I’m ready to do whatever they ask me to do,” said Randle, who has 102 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown in three preseason games. “I’m excited for any opportunity I get, and I’m going to try to make the most of it.”
Dunbar earned the coaches' praise for his work as a runner, pass catcher and blocker. The Cowboys had no worries about his ability to pick up the blitz or knowing his assignment.
That trust in Dunbar was earned throughout his rookie season and through this offseason, but rookie running backs such as Randle always have a lot to learn when it comes to pass protection.
“I just think the variety of fronts that you see in the NFL and the different kinds of pressure you see, there’s a lot of communication that goes into identifying who’s who, and that triggers your blocking responsibility,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Then the other part of it is just the physical aspect of the game. You have to block these guys. ... Typically most linebackers are pretty good rush guys as well, whether they rush inside or on the edge, so there’s a mental part of it. Typically that comes from just not being exposed to it."
Garrett said Randle is a willing blocker but needs improvement.
“Blocking is a part of the game," Randle said. "If you don’t do it, you won’t play. So if you're sharp on that, then you've got a chance.”