COWBOYS OTA INJURY UPDATE: Jason Garrett to err on the side of caution this time of year

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett during stretches at OTA practices at Valley Ranch - The Boys Are Back blog 2012

DeMarco Murray’s injured hamstring continues to keep him sidelined at the Dallas Cowboys’ offseason practices, but the absence of the team’s top running back isn’t keeping coach Jason Garrett up at night.

Speaking at a news conference in Irving, Garrett dismissed the notion that injuries to Murray and several other players are a pressing issue at Valley Ranch. Murray has missed nine games due to injuries over his first two NFL seasons.

“I just think with all the guys with any kind of hint of injury this time of year, we’re very cautious,” Garrett said. “We don’t want to take any backward steps. They’re all progressing well in their rehab. They’re all working hard. So, we just want to keep them moving forward, and (Murray) falls into that category as well as a number of other guys.”

Other players limited by injuries include:

  • safety Will Allen,
  • wide receiver Tim Benford,
  • linebacker Justin Durant,
  • rookie safety Jakar Hamilton,
  • defensive end Anthony Hargrove,
  • quarterback Tony Romo,
  • running back Joseph Randle and
  • fullback Lawrence Vickers.

Injuries decimated the Cowboys’ defense last season, but Garrett said it’s way too early to think the team won’t be healthy this season.

“You want to keep injuries to a minimum, obviously – and kind of injuries,” he said. “If you look around the league, there are probably a lot of teams that are going through the same kind of things we’re going through, and you’ve just got to manage the right way.

“If we were playing on Sunday, we might handle these things a little bit differently. But, again, you want to err on the side of caution this time of year, and we have to do everything we can as an organization to keep these guys healthy.”

RELATED: DeMarco Murray determined to play all 16 games this season

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray says he wants to play in all 16 games in 2013 season - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray knows he can’t win the battle of perception.

He joined the Cowboys as a third-round pick in 2011 with a reputation of being injury prone in college at Oklahoma, despite owning the school records for points, touchdowns and all-purpose yards.

Murray then missed nine games his two seasons combined, prompting the Cowboys to draft Oklahoma State star Joseph Randle in the fifth round this year to help shoulder the load going forward.

Dallas Cowboys OTA - DeMarco Murray - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Now Murray is sidelined for the start of OTAs with a tweaked hamstring. He missed all of last week and Tuesday.

While he said he doesn’t worry about the injury-prone label, he does plan on changing the perception in 2013 by doing something he has never done before: play all 16 games.

“That’s something I can’t control,” Murray said of the critics. “I can’t control if anything happens. All I can do is go out there, play hard, play fast, play physical. Once I’m out there, I don’t think there’s any question about anything. “…I am going to play all 16 (games) this year, and I’m excited. It’s going to be a great year for us.”

If Murray plays all 16 games, it should be a great year for the Cowboys.

One thing he has proved over his first two years is that the Cowboys are better when Murray is in the lineup and running well. He has 218 carries for 1,100 yards in Cowboys’ wins in 2011 and 2012 compared to 107 carries for 466 yards in losses.

His importance is not lost on the Cowboys, who support the decision by Murray and the trainers to take it slow during OTA workouts so he can be ready to live up to his promise of a full season on the field.

“DeMarco, he’s going to be good,” receiver Dez Bryant said. “The thing about it is, we’re in OTAs and we don’t want to get him out there when he’s not ready and something comes up. We need him throughout the whole year. Not only for DeMarco but for every player, we don’t want to rush anybody. He’s a great player and he’s probably one of the biggest pieces to this puzzle. He’s doing fine.”

Said tight end Jason Witten: “I think it’ll be huge for us. He’s a guy that plays hard and runs hard. I think we’ll do a better job offensively running the ball. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on that. He’s a dynamic back who can create a lot of things for you. He’s got to be healthy and out there. He’s worked hard to get there, and hopefully we’ll get to see him here in these OTAs. A lot of that has been tightened up. We can’t be in those situations that we were last year. It’s just too hard to overcome.”

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