Jerry compares Dunbar to ex-Eagle Westbrook

IRVING, Texas – Darren Sproles, the New Orleans Saints’ sparkplug, is the diminutive running back to whom Lance Dunbar is most often optimistically compared.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones aims a little higher, so to speak, when he mentions Dunbar in the same breath as former Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook.

“Well, this is probably a stretch, but I know what Westbrook did to us for 100 years up in Philadelphia,” Jones said Tuesday on KRLD-FM when asked if Dunbar reminds him of anyone. “I couldn’t figure it out … but boy, all he did was go out there, make plays anyway he could touch the ball. You pick players that you try to identify players with. Someone will say, ‘Well, he’s no Westbrook,’ and I would have to agree with you at this particular point, but he has the ability to give us an all-purpose (playmaker).”

It’s particularly interesting that Jones compared Dunbar to a former every-down back, not just a niche player. At his peak in 2007, the 5-foot-8, 200-pound Westbrook accounted for 2,104 yards from the line of scrimmage and 12 touchdowns, carrying the ball 278 times for 1,333 yards and catching 90 passes for 771 yards that season.

Dunbar, whose status for the season opener is uncertain due to a sprained foot, will be DeMarco Murray’s backup last season. But it isn’t just Jones who projects a potentially larger role for the 5-foot-8, 188-pound Dunbar in the future.

“When you watch Dunbar play, you immediately say, ‘He looks small and he only can do these certain sorts of things,’” head coach Jason Garrett said. “I think that he’s proven to us that he can do a lot more than that. He’s been a runner in regular-type personnel groups. He’s been a runner on third down. He’s been a protector and a receiver on third down.

“He’s one of those guys that keeps surprising you. He’s probably stronger and more explosive than people give him credit for, and he’s shown that he can do a lot of different things. So I don’t think we want to pigeonhole him into any one role.”

The general manager certainly isn’t pigeonholing the second-year back who was undrafted out of North Texas. Jones prefers to compare Dunbar to a former Pro Bowler.