IRVING, Texas -- DeMarco Murray had the best season in 2014 that a running back has had in Dallas Cowboys' history. Better than Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett. Better than the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith.
Murray posted franchise records for yards in a season (1,845), carries (392), 100-yard games (12), consecutive 100-yard games to start a season (eight, which was also an NFL record) and the most scrimmage yards (2,261).
Joseph Randle had a better view of what Murray did in 2014 as the backup running back.
“He had a good year last year,” Randle said, “and I got to sit back and watch a lot and I felt like there was a lot of meat left on the bone.”
Randle did not make any outlandish statements about what he could have done in 2014 or what he will do in 2015. He understands he is in a competition with Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar and Ryan Williams to be the leader or simply part of a running back by committee.
He and McFadden took turns with the first-team snaps during the Wednesday’s organized team activities (OTAs). Running backs coach Gary Brown said there is nothing to read into about any rotation at this point.
Randle has 105 carries in his two seasons with the Cowboys. Last year he had 51 runs for 343 yards and three touchdowns. He might feel he is ready to be the guy, but he knows the work is just beginning with the Sept. 13 opener against the New York Giants a long way off.
“We still have to compete for the starting job,” Randle said. “It’s still an open competition and they make that clear every day that it’s still an open competition so once somebody wins that job if they get tired they come out. That’s why I’m working so hard every day in practice so that I don’t get tired.”
Murray didn’t come out last year. He was too good to take out. He caught 57 passes, which was third on the team. He was a solid pass protector as well.
If there is a knock on Randle, it is his pass protection. He is working to gain the coaches' trust and the trust of Tony Romo in that department.
He is also working to gain the trust of the coaches and front office after two arrests in a four-month span for shoplifting as well as a domestic violence charge and drug possession. No charges were filed in his offseason arrest in Wichita, Kansas, but he could be subject to penalty under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
“Everything you go through in life you learn from it and I learned from it and I’ve moved past it,” Randle said. “I’ve grown up. I’ve made some young and silly mistakes but I’m moving forward.”
The Cowboys hope he goes forward on the field. Maybe not for 1,845 yards, like Murray, but enough to keep the Cowboys’ running game among the NFL’s best.
“Besides my first two years here, I haven’t ever been nothing but a star,” Randle said. “And I was still a star last year because I had a star on my helmet, so I’m just going to keep being me, Joe Randle.”