DeMarco Murray had 20 rushes and eight receptions in the Dallas Cowboys 36-31 victory over the Giants. His 28 total touches was the second-most of his career, and the second-most touches by an NFL running back last week.
Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy had 32 touches. Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin and Detroit’s Reggie Bush each had 25.
“Whenever I can get the ball, trying to make something happen, give this offense a spark, it’s going to be good for our team,” Murray said. “They did a good job of giving me opportunities to do that last weekend.”
Murray had 31 touches against the Redskins two years ago, the only time he’s ever had more.
Murray has a history of injuries, having missed nine games in his first two seasons, but coach Jason Garrett said he is not worried about exposing Murray to more hits with an increased load. Murray played 69 of 77 snaps, with Phillip Tanner taking five snaps. Joseph Randle did not play despite being active on game day.
“It’s how the game plays out,” Garrett said. “It’s good to get him the football. He’s a good football player. He’s the kind of guy who can control the tempo of a game and the pace of a game for you. That’s a good thing. There are a lot of good running backs in the history of the league who have been able to do that by either handing it to them or throwing it to them. So we think that’s a good thing for our offense and a good thing for our team. Obviously, we’ll be very aware if he’s getting worn down and we need to put somebody else in there. You do that in games. You do that over the course of games. But I don’t think that number is out of the ordinary at all.”
The Cowboys will have Lance Dunbar back this week to ease some of the burden off Murray. Dunbar missed last week’s game with a sprained foot.
“He’s a special player,” Murray said. “We’ll definitely get some touches [for him].”
Brandon Carr has shown he can come up big late in games. He had a fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown last year in Philadelphia, an overtime interception against Pittsburgh also last year, and last week, he had a fourth-quarter pick-six against the New York Giants.
But secondary coach Jerome Henderson can’t help imagining what could happen if the Cowboys can get Carr making a bigger impact earlier in games.
“Let’s go do it all the time,” Henderson said. “I think he’s got that ability, that he can be a difference-maker for our team, and we keep talking about it and pushing him that direction, to be a difference-maker.”
With four interceptions, Carr has already made a difference 17 games into a Cowboys career that began with a $50.1 million contract over five years.
But what Henderson is talking about is influencing the game from the start. He believes Carr has the level of talent that he doesn’t need to always let the game come to him.
“You impose your will on the game, but you do it in a sound way,” Henderson said. “You don’t do that being unsound and taking chances and doing things that will get you beat. Just with the force of your play, your attention to detail, you impose your will on the game. And there are players that do that, and again, we’re always pushing him to become that.”
Carr already has a knack for one thing Henderson and the new defensive coaches preach – scoring with a turnover. Carr has returned two interceptions for a touchdown with the Cowboys, and another return reached the 1.
“We really beat it into their heads this year: score,” Henderson said. “Because it’s hard for defensive players to tackle good runners. It’s hard. We miss tackles, and we practice that skill all the time. Offensive players don’t practice it. So when you get the ball, make them tackle you. Don’t go out of bounds. Make somebody tackle you because they don’t do it very often. We get it, we want to score.”
The NFL and NFL Players Association met last week to discuss solutions to revive HGH testing talks, which have stalemated over Commissioner Roger Goodell’s power in the appeals process, league and union sources said Thursday.
The sides have been in contact since, but there hasn’t been any movement on the central issue. The NFL has been adamant that Goodell retain final say over appeals in evidentiary cases and cases involving the law. The former would encompass circumstances like baseball’s Biogenesis case, and the latter would include findings based on, for example, arrests and grand jury testimony.
The league and players’ union agreed in principle to HGH testing in early August, with the overall drug policy’s appeals process being the sticking point preventing a comprehensive deal.
According to union sources, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has not been the one railing against Goodell retaining power in the appeals process. It has been the player reps who are unwilling to go along with the league’s desire to keep the commissioner in place as the appellate officer. The players, according to sources, have used Goodell’s handling of the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal to explain why they’re unbending on the matter.
Time will come into play here, too. The union and league have been informed that it will take two to three months to complete a population study. While the sides seem amenable to the less-ideal scenario of collecting blood from all players on regular-season rosters — rather than all players on the larger training-camp rosters — to set thresholds through the population study, the lag time in setting those thresholds makes the thought of sanctions against offenders in 2013 increasingly less likely.
The plan has been to collect blood en masse, then start the testing protocol after that. Then, once the threshold for a positive test is set, sanctions will begin. That means players whose blood initially is collected after the population study would be subject to sanctions a couple months down the line. So if a comprehensive agreement came in November, it’s unlikely the threshold would be set in time to suspend players during the 2013 season.
An additional part of the tentative agreement involves the population study. If more than 5 percent of all players test over an agreed-upon threshold, then those players will be subject to more frequent reasonable-cause testing, which includes an immediate test after the population study and could lead to punishment.
Dialogue between the league and union on this matter has been consistent and is expected to continue.