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Without Lance Dunbar, Cowboys lose some electricity

Running back Lance Dunbar, who had 10 receptions against Atlanta, had found the perfect role before suffering a knee injury on Sunday night. Tim Heitman/Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

IRVING, Texas – What are the Dallas Cowboys missing without Lance Dunbar?

“So much,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “He does a lot out of the backfield for us. Obviously we saw that last week [against Atlanta]. And he ran the ball with a couple of big runs. He’s electric.”

Dunbar will have an MRI on Monday morning, but the Cowboys fear he tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee while returning the opening kickoff of the second half in the overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints.

With Dez Bryant out for at least one more game with a broken foot, Dunbar is another weapon the Cowboys won’t have on offense.

While he did not catch a pass against the Saints, he established a career high in receptions with 21 for 215 yards in the first three games, including 10 catches for 100 yards against the Falcons. He was on pace for an NFL record for catches in a season for a running back before Sunday’s game.

He also had a 45-yard run on the Cowboys’ second play against the Saints.

“He worked his tail off to get in the situation he is in to be a really productive player for us,” tight end Jason Witten said. “He’s playing at a high level.”

In 2013, Dunbar suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee against the Oakland Raiders in which he ran for a career-high 82 yards. He was able to return without an issue in 2014 and the coaches were finally using him the way they had wanted this season.

Now they have to find production out of the backfield in the passing game from Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Christine Michael. None is as explosive as Dunbar.

“I hate it for him,” Weeden said. “Seeing him lying there, my stomach hurt bad, that’s how I felt for him. He had a bad injury a couple of years ago and battled back to play at a high level. I’m close with Lance; love the guy like a brother. I really do. It don’t get much better, always smiling. He’s a great guy. Man, I hate it for him.”