IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is on pace to tie Larry Johnson's single-season NFL record for carries in a season with 416, and coach Jason Garrett hopes Murray does not come near it.
Garrett said he would like to lessen the load on the NFL's leading rusher going forward after handing it to Murray 130 times for 670 yards in the Cowboys' first five games. Murray carried a career-high 31 times for 136 yards in the Cowboys' 20-17 overtime win against the Houston Texans on Sunday, three weeks after posting a career-high 29 carries against the Tennessee Titans.
Murray has had at least 22 carries in the first five games, which is the most he has had in any five-game span of his career. He had four straight games with 20 carries as a rookie in 2011.
Emmitt Smith holds the Cowboys' record for carries in a season with 377 in 1995.
"DeMarco was out there and we think that's probably too many carries in the game, week in and week out," Garrett said. "He ended up with 31 so we'd like to get that number lower. We'd really just like to get the other guys an opportunity. I don't see any wear and tear in DeMarco but having said that, we want to make sure we create a rotation and we'll focus on doing that in the next few weeks."
Murray has not had more than 217 carries in a season with ankle, foot and knee injuries knocking him out of 11 games in his first three seasons. Backup running backs Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar have combined for 22 carries for 88 yards in the first four games.
Randle had just two carries for 4 yards against the Texans. Dunbar has not had a carry in three straight games.
While Garrett acknowledged certain games in which the Cowboys lead by a lot or trail by a lot will play a part in Murray's touches, he said the coaches have to be mindful of the carries.
"We've got to make sure we take care of him over the course of the season, but we'd do that with any player," Garrett said.