IRVING, Texas — Joseph Randle could’ve returned to Oklahoma State for his senior year and as he said Wednesday, “been the man.”
Instead, he entered April’s draft and eventually the Dallas Cowboys made him the 11th running back selected.
His transition hasn’t been seamless. Randle was projected to leave Oxnard, Calif. as the Cowboys’ No. 2 back, but Lance Dunbar foiled that plan with an impressive training camp. It also didn’t help Randle that he was limited during minicamp and organized team activities with a cast on his right thumb.
On Saturday, Randle will likely get his best chance to show the Dallas coaching staff if he deserves the backup role behind DeMarco Murray.
“Every time I touch the ball I feel like I need to make an impact,” Randle said. “If they ever put the ball in my hands, that’s a big responsibility, holding onto the ball and making sure it’s always safe, and that they can trust me to hold onto it, trust me to make plays. That’s an honor to me.
“If I touch the ball, I’m trying to make something happen.”
With Dunbar sidelined because of a sprained left foot, Randle should see plenty of opportunities to make something happen in both the running and passing game. The starters will probably play the majority of the first half, but Murray’s snaps could be limited because of his injury history.
That could put Randle in position to work with the first-team offense.
“I need to get game ready,” Randle said. “Any chance I get to be on the field is an opportunity for me.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says Randle needs to be a more consistent player and learn from the mistakes he’s making.
Now, Garrett was referring to mistakes Randle has made on the field, not in the ocean.
During training camp, Garrett seemed to enjoy telling the story of how the 6-0, 198-pound running back jumped into some shallow water when the team went swimming on an off day.
“He takes his shirt off, goes running in and I swear to God he thought it was a swimming pool cause he got about three steps in the water — could not have been more than 12 inches deep — and he jumps up and goes bang,” Garrett recalled. “It’s rocks. It’s sand. It ain’t deep. He kind of played it off and got going again but I am not so sure he knew what he was getting into.
“Typical Randle. I say that with affection.”
Through three preseason games, Randle has carried 29 times for 102 yards and a touchdown. Not exactly putting him on pace for what he did his junior year at OSU [1,417 yards and 14 touchdowns on 274 carries], but he also hasn’t been given many running lanes at the line of scrimmage.
Saturday’s game should be a special one for Randle. It’ll be his first time playing in AT&T Stadium. It will also mark the first time he’s been back in the venue for a game since he paid a ticket taker $300 to let him sneak into Super Bowl XLV without a ticket. (link: http://cowboysblog.dallasnews.com/2013/06/cowboys-rookie-joseph-randle-explains-how-he-got-inside-cowboys-stadium-for-super-bowl-xlv-without-a-ticket.html/)
“I’m excited,” Randle said. “It’s my first time playing in Cowboys Stadium. I’ve never done that before, so I’m very excited. It’s going to be special.”