Cowboys banking on Murray's health

IRVING, Texas -- Through two games, Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is on pace for 408 carries this season.

It's too early to say Murray will challenge Larry Johnson's NFL regular-season record of 416 carries for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006. It's probably too early to say Murray will push for Emmitt Smith's franchise record of 377 in 1995.

But Murray's 51 carries are the most he has had in a two-game span in his career, and he has never had more than 217 carries in a season.

As a rookie in 2011 he had 47 carries for 160 yards in a four-day span in Cowboys' wins against the Washington Redskins (Nov. 20) and Miami Dolphins (Nov. 24). He has not had more than two games in a row with at least 20 carries since his rookie seaason when he went a span of four straight games with at least 20 carries.

This is the first time Murray, who had a career-high 29 carries for 167 yards in Sunday's win against the Tennessee Titans, has had back-to-back games with at least 20 carries since Week 13-14 against the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals in 2012.

"We feel like DeMarco is a durable football player who can take the pounding of being the primary running back for the Cowboys, so we're going to give him opportunities to do that," coach Jason Garrett said. "We like the other guys. If we ever get to a point where we feel like we're wearing them down, we say, 'OK, let's play the other guys a little bit more.' But we don't feel like we're to that point by any means. He seems to handle the work. He seems to relish in getting the work, and that's a good thing. He seems to get better as the game goes on with more carries, and that's what all the good backs that I've ever been around have. That's part of their demeanor. So we'll certainly be mindful of running him into the ground, just like we would any player on our team, and be willing to use the other guys and trust the guys to carry the ball behind him."

But Murray has yet to play a full season. He missed three games as a rookie with a fractured ankle. He missed six games in 2012 with a foot injury. He missed two games last year with a knee injury.

Garrett clarified what he meant by durable when Murray's injury history was mentioned.

"It probably was more than we don't feel like he wears down, you know what I'm saying?" Garrett said. "We feel like at the end of that ballgame, he was strong. It wasn't like, ‘Boy, he's breaking down, he doesn't look like himself.' I thought he got stronger as the game wore on."