Dallas Cowboys’ Running Back Battle Heating Up
Leading up to Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Rams the Dallas Cowboys will be without three of their most potent offensive weapons. Jason Witten will be out still nursing a ruptured spleen, Miles Austin will be out due to hamstring issues and Dez Bryant will miss the game with patella tendinitis.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is going to go out there showcasing an amazing array of talent that includes the likes of Kevin Ogletree, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris and John Phillips. In my opinion Romo shouldn’t play in the game.
You might say, “well he needs to get his timing down and build camaraderie with these guys.” My response to that is, that’s what the practices are for.
The Cowboys will have their signal caller out there, but I can see the running game being the focus of the offense.
DeMarco Murray is obviously the starter so he’s not going anywhere.
Jerry Jones said earlier in the week that Felix Jones’ spot on the team is safe, although he’s been a disappointment this preseason. He showed up to camp out of shape, failed the conditioning test and has failed to shine in the previous two games.
Then there’s the other guys; Jamize Olawale, Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar; all competing for one roster spot.
Olawale has handled most of the carries in Tanner and Dunbar’s absence, and has shown good movement and vision for someone who played receiver in college. He’s still learning the position and as coach Skip Peete said needs to learn how to play behind his pads.
Olawale has decent speed and brings a dimension that can’t be learned through coaching. You can’t teach size; at 6’1″ 238 lbs he could become a bruiser down near the goal line or on short yardage situations.
Tanner, who was last year’s Cinderella story, is coming off of a broken hand suffered in the first week of training camp. Best known for his helmet-less run last preseason, Tanner needs to show that he’s deserving of a roster spot in the next two preseason games.
What could ultimately end up saving his roster spot will be his play on special teams.
Dunbar, is considered a talented runner by coach Peete who also said he’s very explosive and very dangerous. One thing Dunbar does better than the previous two is block. His blocking ability has impressed the coaching staff.
My fearless prediction is that Tanner will return as the third string running back. He offers a special teams ability that the other two backs simply don’t or haven’t done well. I also think Olawale will end up on the practice squad and Dunbar will get cut.
Of course, this could all change depending on the outcome of Saturday’s game.
I don’t see the Cowboys carrying four running backs like they did last season due to the lack of depth at other crucial positions.
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