Cowboys' run game still work in progress

IRVING, Texas – Remember that feeling coming out of the Hall of Fame Game that the Cowboys made good on their quest to be more dedicated to the running game in 2013?

Turns out maybe not so much. At least not yet anyway.

After running the ball 34 times against Miami in Canton, Ohio, the Cowboys have just 36 rushes in the last two games against Oakland and Arizona, and they have picked up just 114 yards on those carries. Against the Raiders the Cowboys ran 20 times for 70 yards. Against the Cardinals, they had 44 yards on 16 carries. DeMarco Murray has 22 yards on seven carries in two games.

With Tony Romo having missed the offseason because of surgery to remove a cyst from his back, perhaps the Cowboys wanted to focus on the passing game in his first two games of work.

“You want to have balance,” coach Jason Garrett said, “There’s no design to say every time Tony is out there we’ll throw it. We want to have balance every time we break the huddle.”

It’s a little concerning that the first-team offensive line has not been able to get much push despite more playing time than their first-team skill players.

On Saturday, the Cowboys could trot out their fourth different starting line in four preseason games if Doug Free lines up at right guard, Jermey Parnell at right tackle and Mackenzy Bernadeau moved to left guard.

There have been run plays called that were turned into passing plays by Romo because of the fronts that the Raiders and Cardinals showed before the snap. Garrett acknowledged it could be possible the Cowboys stick with the running calls more even if it would face an uphill battle based on the defensive design.

“I think sometimes you do that,” Garrett said. “Sometimes you do that in the regular season. If you’re trying to get something accomplished within a game, you might kind of abandon some of those implementation ideas you have in a typical game. But I don’t that that’s unique to the preseason. Sometimes you just want to run the football, and you can handle the front even though the numbers might not be great. We have to do some of that. We’ve done that before. We got to keep doing that.”