DeMarco Murray returns after injury

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Green Bay Packers


Randall Cobb isn't the only player looking to have a breakout season in 2011.

The wait is over for running back DeMarco Murray and the Dallas Cowboys.

The third-round draft pick made his practice debut Tuesday, coming back for the first time since straining a hamstring during the lockout.

''I'm just excited to be here,'' he said. ''I know what to do and I know where to go and things like that, I just need to get the reps in and I'll be fine.''

Murray is the third-string back behind starter Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, but the rookie figures to play a significant role in the offense. Choice (calf), wide receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) and linebacker Keith Brooking all returned Tuesday as well, but it was Murray who generated the most buzz.

''He's a smart guy,'' coach Jason Garrett said. ''That's one of the things we liked about him coming out. He seems on top of it in the meeting room. We've got to be able to see if he can take the information and take it out to the practice field.''

Garrett has been flying blind when it comes to the former Oklahoma star. Normally, rookies begin working out with teams shortly after the draft and throughout the summer. The lockout wiped out the offseason and Murray's injury took care of the start of training camp and the first two preseason games.


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''We didn't have that this year,'' Garrett said of the offseason program. ''We had to wait for training camp to start to see these guys and now we had to wait three or four weeks to see a couple of the guys who were banged up. We're excited to see them.''

Garrett praised Murray's ability to be an every-down back, catch out of the backfield, protect the quarterback and return kicks. Murray believes his strengths fit it well in the running back rotation.

''Speed and versatility -- I can run, catch and block,'' he said. ''Felix is doing a great job, so I'm just here to complement him and Tashard Choice, and special teams-wise get in wherever they need me.''

Even though Jones if the clear No. 1 back, Garrett expects to use each of his runners.

''We're going to use more than one back,'' Garrett said. ''I just think that's the nature of the league in this day and age. Those runners take a lot of pounding. Now, ideally you want to have bell cow and have a guy who's your lead dog, and the other guys fit themselves in whether it's situational or things they do well.''

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Murray said he's ready to carry a big load in the last two preseason beginning Saturday at Minnesota. Garrett, though, said it's too early to determine Murray's role with only one day of practice under his belt.

NOTES: Veteran K Shane Graham was signed to join the kicking competition with David Buehler, Danny Bailey and Kai Forbath. Graham was cut by Washington this preseason. ''We feel good about Shane and what he's done in this league,'' Garrett said. ''We just want to see him go through a practice week with us and see how he responds being on a football team.'' . Long snapper Corey Adams, wide receiver James Cleveland and running back Frank Warren were released. . The team now has 83 players on the current roster. The first roster reduction is to 80 players on Aug. 30.

Tagged: Cowboys, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, DeMarco Murray

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