IRVING, Texas - When the Cowboys drafted DeMarco Murray in the third round of the 2011 draft, they knew he was a terrific runner, blocker and receiver.
But they had no idea about his mental and physical toughness. Talk to enough of Murray's teammates and folks in the Cowboys' front office and it's clear that Murray's toughness is the trait that separates him from other runners in the league.
See, Murray doesn't just gain yards and score touchdowns. He inspires his teammates.
"On thing that might've surprised all of us when we drafted him is how physically tough he is at the end of runs. We saw all of the statistics and production he had in college but at the end of runs he was all going forward," coach Jason Garrett said. "He was always going downhill. You thought he made 4, but he made 6. You thought he made 8, but he got a first down.
"It has a huge impact on the team because those kinds of thing are contagious. You know players watch themselves on tape, but they also watch their teammates. It's less the spectacular stuff but the intangible-driven stuff that's inspiring."
Remember we're talking about a guy who had a plate and eight screws inserted in his left hand on a Monday and carried the ball 22 times and and played 40 snaps six days later.
This is an injury that most expected to keep him out at least a week, but his commitment to playing never wavered
The Cowboys won 42-7 and clinched the NFC East.
"Since he walked through the door, DeMarco has been a very impressive individual.There's a quality there that distinguishes him. You feel like you're with a star," Jerry Jones said. "The guy that was on the table the most for him was Barry Switzer. He was instrumental in my decision to draft him.
"I knew he was going to be a top receiver, but I didn't know he was going to be so good between the tackles, which speaks to his physicalness."