Working with Witten made Cowboys’ Murray more durable

IRVING, Texas — One of the reasons for DeMarco Murray’s record-setting start to the season was having tight end Jason Witten as an offseason workout partner.

Witten and Murray worked out together in hopes of pushing each other to perform at a higher level.

It’s certainly worked in Murray’s case as the Cowboys running back is on pace for a 2,000-yard season after rushing for 100 yards in each of the first seven games, an NFL record.

"It helped a lot, obviously with the stamina aspect, just building a good form for your body to being able to take some hits, to be able to take the pounding of a long season," Murray said Friday. "He’s done it for a long time, and he’s someone who’s had success in this league and he knows what to do to take care of your body in-season, off-season."

Witten is a role model for longevity as a 12-year veteran with nine Pro Bowls under his belt.

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Witten has endured a lot of hits over the years and still is performing at a high level, but he said he still can gain something from working with a younger player like Murray, who’s in his fourth season.

"I knew it was good for me to get with a young guy that can push you, and obviously he’s physically talented," Witten said. "Even since he’s been a rookie he’s always kind of latched onto some people and asked questions, eager to learn. The thing that I like about him since an early age is you could always see that he wanted to be really, really good. And he had a great offseason."

When Witten invited Murray to begin working out together, Murray said it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

"Witten’s a big dog. You can’t tell him no," Murray said. "I think it was … understood, ‘Let’s get some work in.’ And we just did it."

However, there were times when the 32-year-old Witten starting having regrets about trying to keep up with the 26-year-old Murray.

"There were many days I was really sore and would come in and I’d say, ‘Are you sore?’" Witten remembered. "He would tell me, ‘Nah, not really. What about you?’

"’Nah, I feel all right.’"

Murray said he could feel the workouts paying off as early as August, during training camp.

Murray, averaging 27 carries a game, will appreciate the offseason work even more as the hits pile up later in the season.

Witten, who is No. 2 all-time in catches (902) and yards (10,065) for a tight end, said he appreciates Murray’s eagerness to put in the hard work to improve himself.

"He’s everything you want in a teammate from that standpoint," Witten said. "It was good to work out with him in a way, because I kept telling him, ‘You know in November and December this will all pay off for us, the work that we put in.’ You can see it in the way he’s playing."

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire