The Dallas Cowboys are rumored to have found their answer at running back, and it may be a surprising pick.
After losing the bruising DeMarco Murray in the offseason, the Cowboys went on the hunt for a back who could pound defenses the way Murray did so well in the past few seasons. The team assembled a platoon of Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, and Lance Dunbar, though all had more of an element of finesse to their style.
But the Cowboys are rumored to have their answer in Christine Michael, who many believe is in line to take over the starting spot once he is more acclimated. Michael struggled in Seattle the past two seasons and averaged just 3.7 yards per attempt on 32 runs this preseason, but he appears to be a much better fit in Dallas.
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas News wrote, “What they needed was an inside force who could get the tough yards, what Garrett calls the “dirty” yards, when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter. That’s why Ray Rice and Chris Johnson weren’t of interest. They also were edge rushers — and the Cowboys already had a roster full of those. They knew they weren’t going to find an Earl Campbell or a Jerome Bettis. Michael was the best they could come up with at this late date to fill a pressing need on offense. A pounder.”
Joseph Randle is currently listed as the No. 1 back for the Cowboys, but coach Jason Garrett said there isn’t going to be a strict rotation.
“Sometimes you have one guy who’s a featured back and sometimes you have more than one guy doing it,” Garrett said via ESPN.com. “When you have a couple or three different guys involved running the football over the course of a game, I think the benefits are many. There’s a freshness that each of those guys has. Maybe they have different styles. They can attack defenses in different ways and maybe over the course of three of them, they’re just more versatile than one guy might be.”
But given everything the Dallas Cowboys have done in the past few years and the rapidly closing championship window as Tony Romo continues to get older, the pressure will be high on Christine Michael and the rest of the running back department.
As Gosselin notes, if Michael and the other backs fail to stand out, it could send the Dallas Cowboys shopping again.
“The Cowboys have four players they need to judge in game conditions. If on October 1, the running back situation remains unsettled, I would not be surprised of the Cowboys go shopping. But there are elements to all of their games — Randle, McFadden, Dunbar and Michael — that they like. They need to find out if one can emerge as a force or if the four talents can blend into a committee. But if this team struggles to run the ball in September, they won’t stand pat. There’s too much at stake in 2015.”
It’s not clear exactly what that answer would be if Christine Michael and the others falter, but past rumors connected the Dallas Cowboys to Ray Rice, who is still a free agent.
[Picture by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images]