PHILADELPHIA -- Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was out for this early season NFC East contest against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday with a sprained left knee. The replacement, for now and in the possible future, is rookie Joseph Randle, a fifth-round pick from Oklahoma State.
It was Randle who rushed for 65 yards on 19 carries, including 13 in the fourth quarter of a 17-3 victory. Who knew that Randle would have more rushing yards than the NFL's leading rusher, LeSean McCoy of the Eagles, who finished with 55 yards on 18 carries?
"It felt really good and I got more comfortable as the game progressed," Randle said of his first start. "First half was a little slow but then we got moving well on offense. I think I ran the ball well North to South down the field but there are always things you would like to do better."
Randle wasn't dazzling, but solid enough to give the Cowboys confidence he can maintain a starting role before Murray gets back.
Sunday, the Cowboys continued the use of five receiver sets, shotgun formations and numerous passes, Tony Romo threw 47 times, to ease the pressure on Randle. Another backup running back, Phillip Tanner, was used on some third down plays for pass protection, but Randle did a nice job with that as well.
"We did a little bit of things," Romo said. "I think more than anything we dictated how they were playing different things. I thought they did a good job, Tanner and Randle really played well today, (Randle) going to help us. I don't think it was too big for him. I thought he ran hard and I thought he was pretty good on the blocking assignments. We'll have to see it when we watch the tape but it was good to see."
There are all sorts of injuries to the running back position.
Murray is out, backup Lance Dunbar (hamstring) is nicked up and it left the Cowboys with just two healthy players at the position. In the offseason, the Cowboys, knowing Murray has durability issues, he's never played a full NFL season, drafted Randle with the goal of using him as a starter. In training camp, Dunbar and Tanner emerged as solid players the Cowboys could depend on for various things from third down, special teams and in Dunbar's case, a change of pace.
It left Randle on the sidelines early in the season waiting his time until Murray's injury last week against Washington thrust him into a starting role.
"I think Randle can really early the openings in the line and he understands his responsibilities more and more every week," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "I thought he played really well today."