The Cowboys have an opening in the backfield and many players will get a chance at the starting job between now and the first game . One player on the Cowboys' roster is already making a few declarations. Joseph Randle wants this job and had first crack on Tuesday. Some things that he said showed the confidence that he darn-near expects it.
"He (Murray) had a good year last year. But I got to sit back and watch a lot and I felt like there was a lot of meat left on that bone." Randle said to reporters following Tuesday's practice.
That's exactly what the coaches would want to hear because right now Randle has the opportunity of a lifetime. After having his fair share of knucklehead moments over the last year, some inside Valley Ranch, such as Bryan Broaddus, declared Randle all but out:
That tweet was of course in January before the February incident where Randle was cleared of any domestic dispute charges. The thought among some folks inside such as Broaddus and Steve Dennis is that Randle had lost the confidence from the coaching staff due to these actions. It seems now that he's in the process of trying to earn back some trust with the coaches and ownership.
"Everything you go through in life you learn from it," Randle said. "I learned from it and moved past it. I’ve grown up. I made some young and silly mistakes but I’m moving forward."
I wrote a few weeks ago that the Cowboys wanted Joe Randle to win the job and described his vision as a primary component to that reasoning:
"What Randle has more than anything is impeccable vision for the position. He's explosive and he makes extremely decisive cuts. Randle certainly possesses home-run ability but he is so much more than just that. Randle has some power to force his way through the hole and get to the second-level in a flash."
Joseph Randle only had limited opportunities last season but what he did was take advantage of those opportunities. The one thing that comes to mind is those scampers he had against Jacksonville, Chicago, and Washington. His abilities to hit the hole with a purpose but have the explosiveness to run right by the defender is exciting to watch. Although he only had 51 carries in 2014, Randle averaged a whopping 6.7 yards a carry. When asked about his confidence in his ability to become the Cowboys' lead back, his response was certainly strong:
"Besides my first two years here, I haven’t ever been nothing but a star," Randle said. "And I was still a star last year because I had a star on my helmet, so I’m just going to keep being me, Joe Randle."
Randle isn't far off from his assumption. In three years at Oklahoma State, Randle rushed 564 times for 3,085 yards and 40 touchdowns. He also averaged 5.5 yards per carry in college which is not too shabby in itself. Fans aren't the only ones excited to see what production Randle could muster, he's caught the eye of the offensive coordinator Scott Linehan as well:
"I don’t think there’s any reason he can’t have a real productive year for us," Linehan said. "It’s really too hard to say what the production’s going to be and who’s going to get it. We’ll let that play itself out as the year goes on, but certainly he’s going to have more opportunities to have a more significant role for us and I can’t wait to see him do it. He’s really working hard and doing a great job of getting himself prepared, and I think the competition we have at the running back position is really healthy and is really going to help us."
Who knows what's going to happen in these OTA's and then eventually training camp? Randle will surely have his work cut out for him as he'll be battling a former fourth-overall pick in Darren McFadden and the 38th-overall pick from 2011 in Ryan Williams. However, as a fan of competition and ultimately the Dallas Cowboys, it's equally exciting to hear the confidence. There is one caveat to Randle's game that has seemingly avoided both McFadden and Williams; health. Other than a minor injury when coming to Dallas, and a concussion last season, Randle has been active and healthy in his short NFL career. "Joe" as he prefers to be called nowadays is definitely approaching his opportunity the right way:
"Just be here day in and day out, earning Tony (Romo’s) trust and all the older guys’ trust, the whole team’s trust, including the coaching staff. I’ve got a lot of work to do and we have a lot of time go out and make the most of each day."