OXNARD, Calif. -- In some ways Lance Dunbar still carries himself as an undrafted running back from North Texas.
It doesn’t matter that this is his third training camp with the Dallas Cowboys. It doesn’t matter that he already has a role as the third-down back. It doesn’t matter that he could be a core player on special teams.
“I wouldn’t say I like it that way better, but it kind of pushes me, made me work harder, made me the guy I am today,” Dunbar said.
Dunbar is not established the way DeMarco Murray is established. He had just 30 carries last season and caught just seven passes before suffering a knee injury last Thanksgiving against the Oakland Raiders. But it was what Dunbar did in that game -- 12 carries, 82 yards; one catch, 12 yards -- that has many intrigued about his role in 2014.
“This league has kind of evolved into a two-back type league, meaning two marquee backs instead of that one bell cow,” coach Jason Garrett said. “That was the case in this league for a number of years, but very few teams have that one guy who is going to get it 25 times a game. We want to make sure DeMarco Murray gets his touches. We play well on offense, we play well as a team when we hand him the football so we’ll keep trying to do that, keep trying to get him the ball in the passing game too. But anybody who has followed our football team the last couple of years sees that Lance Dunbar can contribute and he continues to get better and better.”
Dunbar’s recovery from knee surgery went better than anybody could have expected. He was not limited in his offseason work and there won’t be any rest in training camp. Garrett said the scores Dunbar put up on tests – benching, squatting, change of direction drills, vertical jump - this spring were better than they were a year ago.
“I couldn’t feel sorry myself,” Dunbar said. “I had to do it myself to get better each and every day. I just pushed myself and I came back stronger and a better player.”