This is one of my favorite articles to read each week … Love it! New writer, same great work … Randy
George: Reading between lines, it looks like DeMarco Murray will be Cowboys’ No. 2 RB
Inside the Dallas Cowboys
Take Saturday’s preseason game against Minnesota for reference.
During the telecast, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said running back Tashard Choice is fighting for a roster spot. Jones also said it’s incredible that Choice has remained on an NFL roster this long without contributing much on special teams.
“The criticism we’ve had of him is you would think with his running ability, he’d be outstanding on special teams,” Jones said. “It’s a real credit to him that he’s been active on our roster on game day and not be a serious special teams contributor. That shouldn’t be that way in the NFL.”
And Jones’ take on Murray, the former Oklahoma standout?
Well, Jones raved about how he had the best hands of any running back in April’s NFL draft.
Then came Tuesday, when Murray said Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis has him on every special teams unit except field goal. Yes, Murray is doing punt return, punt coverage, kick return and kickoff coverage. He said he’s never worked on punt coverage and kickoff coverage.
The Cowboys played it safe with Murray against Minnesota, not using him on special teams. That probably won’t be the case in the final preseason game Thursday at Miami.
“I enjoy special teams,” Murray said. “If that’s the way I’m going to see the field, I’m definitely going to make an impact on it.”
Murray carried the ball seven times for 32 yards and had a 7-yard reception against Minnesota. He said afterward that his legs felt like they weighed 100 pounds each.
Murray said he loves to play slot receiver and catch the ball out of the backfield. That’ll give the Cowboys more options with him on the field. He should be a huge asset to the Cowboys’ screen game.
“I love the opportunity to get out in space and add some diversity to the team,” Murray said. “I’ll get better each week with more practice under my belt.”
Q: With the release of three veteran offensive linemen, are the Cowboys in a rebuilding year?
Reginald L. Bond, Prosper
GEORGE: You won’t hear any Cowboys players, coaches or front-office people say that — it wouldn’t sell tickets — but the writing is on the wall. The Cowboys are cutting overpaid players who aren’t performing to the level of their paychecks in an effort to improve for the future.
That said, this is the NFL, and teams turn over their rosters often. The Cowboys don’t expect to be a .500 team, but they’ll be hard-pressed to make the playoffs this year.
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Q: With Rob Ryan as the new defensive coordinator, I’ve read he’s been instilling an attitude on the defense along with the scheme. Can we expect a tougher defense (a lot like the Doomsday era) with harder hitting?
Rae Massey, Dallas
GEORGE: Rob Ryan certainly brings an attitude and wants a tough defense. So far, we’ve seen very little indication that this year’s defense is any better than last season’s.
It’s not a hard-hitting defense and the players on this defense aren’t the rugged type of players you saw in the Doomsday era. The Cowboys’ defense will take some time to get on its feet early in the season as the players continue to grasp Ryan’s complex 3-4 scheme.
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Q: Tony Romo will never win a Super Bowl. When are the Cowboys going to get the quarterback of the future?
GEORGE: Romo is signed through the 2013 season, but he needs to take that next step over these next two seasons or the Cowboys will look elsewhere for a quarterback who can deliver what Jerry Jones wants, and that’s another Super Bowl ring.
When healthy, Romo is among the best regular-season quarterbacks in the NFL. But he’s failed to produce when it’s counted most: in December and the playoffs. Troy Aikman said Romo is in the prime of his career, so the time is now.
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Q: Are we getting too young on our offensive line, letting go of veteran center Andre Gurode, for a team with more than high expectations?
GEORGE: Going young on the offensive line is a smart decision, a winning pattern for NFL teams. Teams winning Super Bowls these days have young offensive lines. Last year, the Cowboys had the oldest offensive line in the NFL. This year’s offensive line will have an average age of 25.2 years.
When the Cowboys won the first Super Bowl of the Jerry Jones era in 1992, their offensive line was the youngest in the NFL at 26.5 years of age. So, going young isn’t necessarily a bad move.
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Q: Since Tony Romo is one of the very best two-minute quarterbacks in the league, yet notorious for being a slow starter, why don’t the Cowboys run a no-huddle offense to get him in the groove earlier?
Gary Stratton, College Station, Texas
GEORGE: Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has talked about playing with a faster tempo this training camp. I think you’ll see the Cowboys use a quicker tempo on offense more now that they’ve had a youth movement along the offensive line.
The younger offensive linemen can get to the edge quicker and be used more in the Cowboys’ screen game. Also, their running backs are a good fit for a faster pace. You don’t see many NFL teams use a two-minute offense early, and I doubt we’ll see that.