Can Joseph Randle Handle the Work Load with DeMarco Murray Out?

Once again, Dallas Cowboys running back Demarco Murray is down with an injury–almost exactly a year to the day. This time it’s a sprained MCL that came in Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins. Earlier this week, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones thought the player would be out for a few weeks but on Wednesday, Murray said not so fast.

He said of possibly playing on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles via ESPN, “I don’t know what’s been said. But my intentions are to just work hard and possible do everything I can to play this week. Is that going to happen? I don’t know. I am not saying one way or another. But we had a good day (Wednesday) and I am going to continue to do what the trainers tell me to do. We’ll see what happens later in the week.”

Meanwhile, should Murray not be able to play, the next man up is rookie running back Joseph Randle. This comes as running back Lance Dunbar, who is battling a hamstring injury, is out. Is Randle the guy to handle the work load?

His welcome to the NFL just came last week against the Redskins as Randle had 11 carries for 17 yards. He did score a touchdown thanks to the help of rookie center Travis Frederick, who pushed him into the endzone for the one-yard score.

For Randle it was business as usual scoring a touchdown as he had 43 of them over 39 games while playing for Oklahoma State. He not so modestly said via ESPN, “I know what to do down there close to the end zone. It’s to score. The same thing I’ve been doing my whole life.”

But we all know NCAA success doesn’t always translate to the NFL. Unfortunately, not everyone has faith in Randle.

Jonathan Bales from the Dallas News expressed concern about his speed. He wrote from a scouting report,  “Despite all of his success in college, you have to wonder if Randle can overcome his lack of long speed. He ran a 4.63 40-yard dash at the Combine and then followed that up with times between 4.54 and 4.63 at his Pro Day. Simply put, he’s not a burner.

We can discuss the importance of lateral quickness all day, but you can’t overlook the fact that running backs who have clocked in around Randle’s time have recorded about one-sixth the NFL production of those who ran as fast as Murray (4.41). That doesn’t mean Randle can’t possible succeed in the NFL, but the odds are against him.”

He then noted that it doesn’t mean that Randle can’t find success from a “game-by-game basis” as his offensive line can create open running space for him. This week could bode well against the Eagles. But look for the Cowboys to change their scheme accordingly, possibly increasing their wide receivers’ play this week. Maybe next.

Regardless, Randle will be in the spotlight should Murray not play or if he shares reps with him. At the least the young player says he ready by adding, “It’s my chance to earn my check and help the team win.”

Not if Murray has any say in the matter.

Debbie Baratz

Deb has been writing about the NFL and NCAA football for the last few years. She is a full-time writer and an avid sports fan. Follow her on twitter @ldbar.

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