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Big or bad game, Cowboys' Murray keeps churning

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IRVING, Texas (AP)

(Eds: Updates, stands.)By SCHUYLER DIXONAP Sports Writer

DeMarco Murray's expression never changes much, even after the first 100-yard game in more than a year for the Dallas Cowboys running back.

The third-year back said he wasn't frustrated coming off a 25-yard day in Kansas City that led to questions about whether he was the problem in the running game, rather than the blocking or the scheme or something else.

On the flip side, Murray wasn't shouting ''I told you so'' when he ran through St. Louis for 175 yards last week, two years after he set a franchise record with 253 yards as a rookie against the Rams.

''Whether it's positive or negative, I don't read into it too much,'' said Murray, who will face San Diego for the first time Sunday. ''All I'm doing is trying to work hard, and whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to try to do it. I'm sure the offensive line, I'm sure those guys aren't worried about anything, either.''

Murray's right. Not much has changed for rookie Travis Frederick after getting a chance to dominate with run blocking like he used to at Wisconsin. And this year's first-round pick wasn't really thinking about the paltry 3.2-yard average per carry Dallas had before beating St. Louis and pushing that number to 4.3.

''Things like that, when you have game like that, that happens because you're getting better,'' Frederick said. ''You take the bad things that you did during that game, which there were plenty of, and you better at that and hopefully take it into next week.''

Murray was benched after a fumble in the last preseason game featuring mostly starters. While he had a decent game in the opener against the New York Giants, a rough day in the 17-16 loss to the Chiefs was a reminder that he hadn't gone over 100 yards since the 2012 opener.

Part of the reason for the drought was a six-game absence with a sprained foot last year - an injury that ended what would have been a 100-yard day in Baltimore when he had more than 90 yards at halftime. The Cowboys rushed for 227 yards that day.

Since then, Dallas had only three 100-yard games - as a team - before getting 193 in the 31-7 victory over the Rams.

''It's not always easy around the league to come out and say, `We're going to run the ball and we're going to rush for 150 yards in the first half,''' coach Jason Garrett said. ''It's unrealistic to think that. You have to keep banging away. You have to keep finding ways to run the ball whether it's a new personnel group, a new formation, a new this, a new that.

''It helps the offensive line. It helps the quarterback. It helps the receivers. It just helps everybody.''

Tony Romo would second that. He had his fewest passing attempts since that St. Louis game two years ago, and still threw for three touchdowns. While he needs as many games like that from Murray to minimize his chances for mistakes, he doesn't necessarily think his back has to run wild every week to be happy.

''Every time we have him out on that field he helps our football team tremendously,'' said Romo, who has just one interception. ''I know sometimes a game or two we want to jump to conclusions about individuals and about the team and go that way, but it's going to play out over a season with all of those things.''

Frederick didn't see a different Murray this week either.

''You see it in practice every day,'' Frederick said. ''He's a guy that goes and plays as hard as he can. This week things happened to open up a little bit and he was able to make some more plays. But he's a guy that's continually playing well. He didn't need a game like that to spark him to do something.''

But maybe it could be a spark to a big season for Murray.

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Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

Tagged: Cowboys, DeMarco Murray

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