Cowboys’ Dunbar ‘excited’ about how he’ll be used in Linehan’s offense

Lance Dunbar started to really show his NFL potential last year on Thanksgiving Day. The Dallas Cowboys backup running back carried 12 times for 82 yards in that 31-24 victory over Oakland.

But the 24-year-old’s second NFL season was also ended that day. A left knee injury forced him to have season-ending surgery.

The good news is that Dunbar has returned to working out at Valley Ranch and says he feels completely healed.

"I’ve been up there since the end of last season, working out, trying to get healthy," Dunbar told’s Jordan Ross on Monday. "It feels great to get back to work with my teammates, though, and seeing their faces. It’s been a while, everyone’s been doing their own thing. Now we’re all getting back in the right frame of mind. We all have one goal and that really starts today."

Dunbar was referring to the voluntary workout program that started Monday at the practice facility.

"I’d say that I’m at 100 percent," Dunbar said. "I’ve been able to do everything now for a couple of weeks without any restrictions. I’m feeling pretty good. I’d definitely say I’m 100 percent."

Dunbar told Ross that he briefly met with the Cowboys’ new offensive play caller, Scott Linehan. The 2012 undrafted rookie free agent out of North Texas could see more opportunities catching the ball out of the backfield in Linehan’s scheme.

Detroit Lions running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell combined to catch 107 passes last season in Linehan’s system. Dunbar caught seven passes for 59 yards in nine games in 2013.

"I’m very excited about working with him," Dunbar said. "I’ve seen the things he did with the guys in Detroit. He utilizes all of his guys and knows how to get them the ball in space. He plays to their ability and strengths.

"I think I have a good chance to get out in space with screens and stuff and make a lot plays. We have so many weapons and Linehan will make sure he uses all of them so the defense can’t zero in on one or two guys. It’s going to make things harder and more confusing for defenses."

Dunbar figures to be the No. 2 back behind Pro Bowler DeMarco Murray this upcoming season. Joseph Randle, last year’s fifth round pick, should also see plenty of touches as the team’s No. 3 option. A fourth running back on the depth chart could come in next month’s draft or possibly immediately after via an undrafted rookie free agent.

Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota