Cowboys’ Murray aims for 1st injury-free season
DeMarco Murray stares down discussions about two injury-plagued
seasons with the Dallas Cowboys the same way he does defenders in
the open field: as though he’s about to hit something.
”Any other questions,” the third-year running back says with a
Murray is ready to do what he finally did in his third year with
the Oklahoma Sooners – put in a full season after frustrating
setbacks cut short the first two.
He’s just not interested in rehashing the broken right ankle
that ended his rookie season in Dallas seven weeks after he set a
franchise record with 253 yards in his first start. Or the
dislocated kneecap with the Sooners late in his freshman season
after Murray set a school record with five touchdowns in his
”There are some things that I can’t control,” said Murray, who
missed six more games last season with a sprained left foot. ”All
I can control is when I’m out there on the field and doing whatever
I can to help this team win.”
So far so good in 2013, although he caused a few whispers about
his health when he was relegated to sideline conditioning work for
the first offseason practice in May. He said at the time he was
just being cautious with a hamstring, and training camp has proven
Murray didn’t miss any practice time because of injuries over
nearly four weeks in California, and he has plenty to accomplish
besides staying healthy. Thanks in part to his foot problem last
year, the Cowboys had the worst per-game rushing average in
franchise history (79 yards).
”I would say as a team and as a unit the last two years I’ve
been here, we haven’t played up to par,” said Murray, who had 911
yards as a rookie despite missing the last three games, but slid
back to 663 yards last season. ”We haven’t gotten to where we want
to, but we’ve made some strides to get better as a team, as an
organization from OTAs and minicamp and now to training camp.”
The Cowboys, who play their fourth preseason game Saturday night
at home against Cincinnati, weren’t supposed to tackle in training
camp, with the brief exception during a Blue-White scrimmage that
involved mostly third- and fourth-team players. But that didn’t
keep Murray – or defenders he engaged – off the ground.
Murray and his new center, rookie Travis Frederick, were still
running so hard 10 yards downfield that they both went sprawling to
the grass in one of the most spectacular collisions of a physical
Even when the whistle blew to stop play before a tackle, Murray
was looking for contact the same way he’s done in games. And when
linebacker Sean Lee wasn’t knocking Murray around as the whistle
blew, he was clawing at the ball.
”It’s always a grind whenever you’re going best on best,”
Murray said. ”Every day we’re out here competing. We’re just
having fun. Once the play is over, I’m slapping the guys on the
butt saying, `Good job.’ In between the whistles, it’s definitely
And it’s exactly the bruising Murray is looking for. He’s not
huge at 6 feet and 220 pounds, but he plays like a safety. And
Murray will be one of the players to watch with the new rule
designed to penalize running backs who drop their head to take on a
defender outside the hash marks.
”If we’re all honest with ourselves, I don’t know if we all
really, really thought he was going to be as physical a runner as
he’s turned out to be,” coach Jason Garrett said. ”His best trait
as a runner is he finishes runs. It’s just his nature. It’s his
The Cowboys were attracted to Murray in the first place by his
ability to catch passes after he set an OU record for running backs
with 71 receptions as a senior. But now he has taken to blocking as
Garrett loves to watch him square off against Lee in a blitz
pickup drill, and Murray made the highlight film in practice one
day with a block that knocked safety Barry Church’s helmet off.
Murray apparently got tired of watching footage of blitzing
defenders getting the best of the backs.
”That’s the kind of physicalness he has as a player, and he saw
the tape the first two nights and he really didn’t like it,”
Garrett said. ”So he came back out and he was determined to do it
the right way. It’s just a part of what he’s all about.”
Murray doesn’t really care what the tape showed – good or bad.
His approach to the next snap is the same as the last because his
mantra is simple: never be satisfied.
”That’s just in life,” he said. ”Once you get content with
yourself, the next guy passes you up, whether it’s the CEO or the
football player, coach, anybody. You can never be content.”
Now Murray wants to show he can stay motivated when he’s
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