Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) jumps over Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd (31) during the third quarter. Buffalo Bills lost to the Dallas Cowboys 44 – 7 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)
ARLINGTON — DeMarco Murray hurdled one of the Buffalo Bills (Jairus Byrd), clearing the crown of the helmet as if it were a high-jump bar.
Later, Murray opted to lay low. “I definitely think,” the Cowboys rookie said quietly, “I get too much credit.”
Maybe Murray does. It wouldn’t be the first time the media buzzed about a passer or a runner instead of the less glamorous.
But anyone who went across the Dallas locker room, over to where the overlooked, large men dress, heard the other side.
Murray gets too much credit?
“He makes the linemen look good,” one of them said.
There was a sense a month ago Murray had merely run in the right place at the right time when he set the Cowboys’ one-game rushing record. It came against the Rams, after all. When Murray said “a bus” could have fit through some of the holes, most nodded.
“Let’s not start any star-is-born talk,” an Oklahoma City columnist wrote that day.
He had a point. Last season, Sooners fans wondered if Murray should have even been the starter.
Murray announced after the St. Louis game that Felix Jones was still the starter. “I’m ready to be the No. 1 guy, the No. 2 guy, the No. 3,” Murray said that day. “Whatever they want me to do.”
Jason Garrett thought about it and decided, oh, he wanted to keep giving Murray the ball. His 135 yards Sunday gives him the best four-game span in Dallas running history.
As for Jones: When he comes back, he will be what he was in college, which is a nice complement to a more complete back.
It’s not uncommon in the NFL. Buffalo used the ninth overall draft selection to take C.J. Spiller, but the Bills give the football to an undrafted free agent, Fred Jackson. The Cowboys have the same kind of reversal with Jones and Murray, although Murray’s third-round status means Dallas always saw the potential.
Murray endured several injuries at OU, including a dislocated kneecap that caused him to miss his final three games in 2007. Even after that, Bob Stoops compared Murray to Adrian Peterson.
“It’s hard to say,” Stoops said then, “who’s more talented.”
It was hard to say anything last summer in San Antonio. Then, Murray stood around with a hamstring injury. Only when Jones was injured did Murray get a chance to change everything.
Such as: The same offensive line that had been spotty this season.
One of the blockers, Montrae Holland, is a journeyman. The Cowboys cut him early in the season only to bring him back, mostly because there weren’t other options.
But Holland has experience, including some with a Pro Bowl runner. Holland began his career in New Orleans with Deuce McAllister.
“And DeMarco is giving me flashbacks,” Holland said.
Holland used the same word Stoops used long ago to describe Murray: “Special.” When listing Murray’s traits, Holland settled on power, vision, patience and an uncanny ability to stop and change direction.
Holland doesn’t necessarily see all of that on every play, since he’s busy blocking. But he says he knows how a runner should read a play, both because of the plan and because of how the blocking develops. And Holland said Murray reacts just as McAllister once did.
Then, Holland said something about credit. Murray, Holland said, deserves it. He makes the line look good, not the other way around.
“I used to say that as much as we thought of our offensive line when Emmitt (Smith) was here,” Jerry Jones said Sunday, making the same point, “it was also Emmitt making our offensive line.”
So the talk had turned to Smith, after McAllister and Peterson. For Murray, laying low is getting harder.
RELATED: DeMarco Murray, trip to locker room was ‘precautionary’
ARLINGTON – DeMarco Murray appeared to injure his left shoulder on his final run of the first half Sunday. However, after going to the locker room 13 seconds before the half had ended, Murray carried nine times in the second half, proving that it wasn’t that serious.
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones confirmed those thoughts after the game, saying if it was serious, he would have been notified.
“I’d already gotten word that it was just precautionary,” Jones said of the early trip to the locker room. “It wasn’t a concern.”
Murray had 71 yards in the first half and finished with 135.
“They said it was no issue,” said Jones, who would not confirm if it was a shoulder injury. “They just thought they’d take him on in. Gosh, the amount of hits he took out there today, I think it’s probably everything.
“It’s not notable, or they would have called and told me.”