Jerry Jones confident in Cowboys' running back situation

IRVING, Texas -- Now that Ezekiel Elliott to the Dallas Cowboys has become a thing, at least among those in the media (hand raised), let’s not forget that Darren McFadden ran for 1,089 yards in 2015.

He did it mostly over the course of the final 11 games. In the first five games he had a total of 129 yards rushing as Joseph Randle’s backup before putting up five 100-yard games and two more 90-yard games in the final 11 games of the season.

Running back was a need for the Cowboys last year after losing DeMarco Murray, and it is a need this year as well.

But how pressing of a need?

“While I know we were all concerned by not having Murray, when we got down to kickoff last year and went to training camp, I think that -- apart from not winning the kinds of games we wanted to win -- we addressed the running back situation a lot more satisfactory than most people thought we had,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said last week at the NFL scouting combine. “We’ll do that again, and I feel good about that. I feel better about our ability to get feeling good about running back than I do about some of the challenges that we’ve got on defense right now. I don’t know. I can actually see ways and options at the running back thing to get us in good shape that I don’t actually see ways and have the name in place for the spot relative to the defense.”

McFadden turns 29 in August and his health is always an issue, even if he has gone two straight seasons without missing a game. Rod Smith did not carry the ball in a game last year for the Cowboys. Lance Dunbar is a free agent and coming back from major knee surgery, so he’s not a sure thing to return. Robert Turbin is also a free agent. Ben Malena ended the season on the practice squad.

At some point, the Cowboys have to do something at running back. Of course, that was the thought last year, too.

“I think that we really were surprised that we didn’t have the younger back coming out of the draft last year,” Jones said, later adding, “We can play with what we are. But we’ll try to get better there through, odds on, maybe a situation like that. There’ll be some veteran free agents out here that probably deserve a look.”

The seemingly casual approach to adding running back help has to do with the quantity of backs that will be available either in free agency or the draft, as well as the Cowboys’ top-notch offensive line.

“We’ve got a good offense,” Jones said. “(If) we get the balance we need with (Tony) Romo getting our receivers in shape, we’ve got a chance to do that. Then I think between what we’ve got on offense and what we have in personnel, what we’re trying to do at running back -- all of that makes me feel better than I do with defense. (The) bigger challenge (is) on defense, to help it.”