DeMarco Murray's numbers down but effectiveness not

IRVING, Texas -- Since DeMarco Murray broke his left hand Dec. 14 against the Philadelphia Eagles, he has averaged 20 carries and 78 yards per game.

In the first 14 games of the season, he averaged 25 carries and 121 yards per game, but Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the drop in carries has not been about protecting Murray’s hand.

“The concern was really the first week and what he was going to be able to do in that game when the contact happened,” Garrett said. “I think he proved early on he was going to be able to play and be functional in all aspects of the game. It really hasn’t been an issue for him. Any reduction in carries almost coincidence, maybe by game plan or what happens over the course of the game. He has been functional right from the start. He has played really well.”

Murray said his hand feels good, but he will not change the hard plastic shell he has used for extra protection for Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers

“I’ve worn the same thing, because it feels comfortable for me,” Murray said. “I haven’t changed anything. I’m not going to change anything now, because it’s working for me.”

In his last six games, Murray has just two 100-yard games and nine carries of 10 yards or more. In the first 11 games, he had 10 100-yard games and 38 carries of 10 yards or more. Despite the drop in numbers, Murray said he feels “fresh,” and Garrett does not see a runner who has been affected by career highs in carries and yards.

“I thought he was outstanding in the game the other day (against Detroit) -- a lot of dirty runs against a team that’s very good defending the run,” Garrett said. “I think we’ve been really balanced over this last stretch. We’ve made a lot of plays in the passing game, maybe as a result of the commitment teams have made to stop the run. We’re playing really good offensive football, and he’s a big part of it. Our ability and our commitment to run it I think has impacted us really favorably in the passing game and really made us the kind of offense that’s hard to stop.”