Murray sitting was coaches' decision

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys starting running back DeMarco Murray missed his second consecutive game with a sprained left knee. Murray made the trip to Detroit and was cleared to participate by the medical staff but he didn't play.

Murray's absence surprised team owner/general manager Jerry Jones who thought he was going to play. But coach Jason Garrett said it was a coaches' decision to sit Murray.

"Well, we decided after the week of practice he wasn’t going to be well enough to play," Garrett said Monday afternoon. "He worked hard the last week to get himself back. He tried to practice Wednesday and Thursday. He practiced most rigorously on Friday. At the end of that practice, we just decided he wasn’t quite right. Our experience has been rather than force a guy to come back and play before he is ready, particularly at that position, it’s better to wait."

Murray, who leads the Cowboys with 428 rushing yards, has yet to play a full 16-game season in his career. Yet, the Cowboys still value Murray's abilities and plan on giving him his starting job back when they face Minnesota on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.

In the loss to the Lions, rookie Joseph Randle earned the start and rushed for 26 yards on 14 carries. Fellow backups Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner combined for 24 yards on seven carries.

"We felt good about those guys being able to play the running back position and to wait it out one more week [for Murray]," Garrett said. "He certainly could have played. Guys play with injuries all of the time. You’ve got to make sure they can protect themselves and you want to make sure they’re going to help your football team as well."

Murray had an expectation he would play against the Lions and told reporters last week if he was practicing he was playing. But the Cowboys were being cautious with him after further conversations with the medical staff.

"You observe him and see if he’s himself," Garrett said. "You see if he can stick his foot in the ground and go north and south and make people miss and he’s not thinking about it and play spontaneously and play with the power and explosiveness he needs to play with."