IRVING, Texas -- Through the first 14 games, Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has had roughly 80 percent of the team's carries, becoming the bell cow for a franchise that has relied heavily on Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith in the past.
If Murray, who has 351 carries for 1,687yards, is unable to play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts because of surgery to repair a broken fourth metacarpal in his left hand, then the Cowboys will go with a running back by committee with Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar.
It's possible they could call up Ryan Williams from the practice squad to have protection in case Randle or Dunbar are hurt against the Colts.
"We have a role for those guys each week. Lance has done a number of different things for us on third down as a receiver, split out," coach Jason Garrett said. "He's just a really good football player. We also have confidence handing him the football. Joseph has been a guy that we've brought into games just to give him the ball and he's done a real nice job with that. I have a lot of confidence in both of those guys."
Randle is second on the team with 34 carries for 237 yards Dunbar has 26 carries for 91 yards.
When Murray missed two games last season with a knee injury, Randle took the bulk of the carries with 91 yards on 33 carries in games against the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions. He has yet to have double-digit carries in a game this season, but he has shown explosiveness with runs of 38, 40 and 17 yards, the latter two going for touchdowns.
"I think the more he's been in this scheme, the more he's been playing at this level, the more confident he's gotten really in every aspect of his game as a special teams player, running down on kicks and making plays there, but also when he goes in on offense," Garrett said. "Sometimes, that can be challenging when you've been sitting there, sitting there, sitting there watching somebody else play and now it's your turn. I think we've seen him a number of times this year come in and really make some great runs. He certainly did in Chicago. He made a great run when we played over in London against Jacksonville. So, he seemed to be able to step in there in kind of a pinch hitter role and really handle it well."
Dunbar's most expansive work came on Thanksgiving last year when he carried 12 times for 82 yards against the Oakland Raiders. On Sunday against the Eagles he had five carries for 22 yards, which was his most action since getting 11 carries in the Cowboys' Week 2 win against the Tennessee Titans.
"I felt Lance did a really nice job in that game, at the end if the game handling the football and just doing some good things and making some good runs," Garrett said. "They weren't splash runs but they were real positive runs in critical moments of that ballgame."