It’s not every day a team can add the fourth-leading rusher in the NFL from the previous season to its roster, but that’s what the Dallas Cowboys will do this week.
Darren McFadden, who ran for 1,089 yards last season, will begin practice this week after spending the first 11 weeks of the season on the non-football injury list because of a broken elbow suffered in the spring.
With only one practice this week because of Sunday's bye, it does not make sense to start McFadden's three-week practice window until next week.
McFadden said his surgically-repaired right elbow is "feeling great," although he does not have full range of motion that is "good enough for me to play with. Everything is good with it. Just a little small hitch in it, but I don't think it's anything that's going to affect me."
The Cowboys placed running back Darren McFadden on the reserve/non-football injury list over the weekend, clearing him from the 53-man roster and leaving him ineligible to play or practice for the first six weeks of the season.
“I don’t know if disappointment is the word for it,” McFadden said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s worse than disappointment to me. I was definitely hoping to be back out there for the start. It’s one of those things I have to sit back and get ready.”
McFadden says he feels like he’s fully healed from the fractured elbow he suffered in June, although a result of the injury is that he may never have full extension of the elbow again, the story said. That’s not something McFadden believes will stand in the way of a return to the field, which explains his reaction to being placed on the list. Look for Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris to get a bulk of the snaps at RB for Dallas.
The Cowboys’ first practice at their new facility will feature a new face – or at least a new participant.
Lance Dunbar certainly isn’t new, but it’s been nearly a year since he practiced with the Cowboys after tearing his ACL and his patellar tendon last October. Dunbar has been working diligently on his rehab in the 10 months since, and he’s prepare to take the next step.
“We work our way back into practice, so today I’ll be doing individuals – slowly working back in,” he said on Sunday afternoon.
The fifth-year running back opened training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which made him unavailable for practice. But alongside fellow running back Darren McFadden, he was a constant at strength and conditioning sessions during practice.
After what has surely been a trying wait, Dunbar should be able to finally get his feet wet in his return to football. It’s unlikely he’ll appear in any of the competitive portions of practice, but it’s a start. Dunbar can be a pass-catching weapon for the Boys as well as a gadget player. He played in all 16 games for Dallas in 2014 and had just 29 rushes and 18 receptions. Last year he was averaging five catches a game through four games before the injury. We only project him for 20 receptions this year.
Saturday, August 20, 2016, 1:08pm
Dallas RB Alfred Morris is competing with Darren McFadden, who has missed the first two preseason games as he recovers from a broken elbow, and rookie Darius Jackson for the backup job behind first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott.
“He was more of a first- and second-down back in Washington,” coach Jason Garrett said, “so we’re giving him an opportunity to do some other things here. He’s a good football player and a pro. He’s working hard and learning every day.”
The story said the he’s running well enough to get it, but the Cowboys want him to be a better receiver and blocker. He caught a screen pass for a short gain and dropped another pass in the flat and pass catching was never something he excelled at with the Skins. He’s worked hard to improve as a blocker, the story said.
David Helman of DallasCowboys.com:
I don’t think it’s even a question that Ezekiel Elliott will be first string, and I’d say that even if Darren McFadden was 100 percent healthy. To your second point, I don’t think “concerned” is the word I’d use, but it’s definitely something I’d be mindful of. DeMarco Murray got 83 percent of the carries for this team in 2014, and he finished with more than 400 total touches. That’s a tad much for anyone, let alone a rookie. Fortunately, the Cowboys have vastly superior depth at the position this year. I think Zeke will finish with roughly 280-300 carries, which would put him right around 18-20 per game. That should leave plenty of carries for Alfred Morris and McFadden to get involved.
It's doubtful that the Cowboys drafted Elliott #4 overall to let him sit behind McFadden and/or Morris as a rookie. As long as he doesn't fall on his face, he should be the workhorse, with McFadden and Morris sprinkling in as change-of-pace backs. McFadden’s offseason injury only serves to help Elliott’s chances of RB1 touches.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told reporters on Tuesday that Darren McFadden recently had surgery on a broken elbow he suffered in an accident at his home. McFadden is out for a couple months, and may or may not be ready for Dallas' season opener against the New York Giants in September.
If there was ever much doubt, this should cement Ezekiel Elliott's status as the RB1. Alfred Morris will likely serve as Elliott's backup as long as McFadden is sidelined. Rookie running backs who are drafted in the early rounds of fantasy drafts tend to outperform their veteran counterparts, but no rookies in recent memory have been drafted as early as Elliott is being drafted this year (in the 1st round).
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott figures to have a prominent role right away, but he’s also entering a veteran running back room that includes free-agent signing Alfred Morris and returning starter Darren McFadden. If he’s going to be a featured back as a rookie, “Zeke has to earn it,” running backs coach Gary Brown said.
In other words, expect a healthy competition.
“I think that’s the best thing for our team and for those guys going forward,” Brown said.
That’s just fine with Elliott, who says competition “keeps you on your toes and make sure you’re getting that work done.”
Dunbar saw his 2015 season cut short in October when he suffered a major injury to his left knee against the New Orleans Saints, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and the patella tendon.
There is a chance he might not be ready for the start of the regular season, let alone the start of training camp and is a good candidate to put on the physically unable to perform list.
Related players: Darren McFadden
In theory, this helps the stock of Darren McFadden since he would serve as the team's primary passing down back with Dunbar sidelined.
CB Charles Tillman (knee)
WR Corey Brown (shoulder)
DT Dwan Edwards (ankle), WR Ted Ginn (knee), LS J.J. Jansen (head), G Andrew Norwell (hamstring)
CB Morris Claiborne (hamstring, ankle), DE Ryan Russell (abdomen)
WR Dez Bryant (foot, knee), WR Brice Butler (hamstring), CB Brandon Carr (shoulder), S Barry Church (ankle), DT Nick Hayden (ankle), S Jeff Heath (shoulder), LB Anthony Hitchens (ankle), CB Byron Jones (ankle), DE Demarcus Lawrence (back), LB Rolando McClain (foot), RB Darren McFadden (groin), QB Tony Romo (back, left shoulder), LB Kyle Wilber (toe)
QB Sam Bradford (concussion, left shoulder), C Jason Kelce (knee), T Jason Peters (back)
LB Kiko Alonso (ankle), LB Connor Barwin (quadricep), LB DeMeco Ryans (hamstring), DE Cedric Thornton (ankle), S Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
S Don Carey (back), WR Calvin Johnson (ankle), DT Caraun Reid (ankle), CB Darius Slay (neck), DT Gabe Wright (ankle)
CB Crezdon Butler (teeth), TE Eric Ebron (quadricep, hand)
Green Bay Packers
S Micah Hyde (hip), C Corey Linsley (ankle), DE Mike Pennel (quadricep), CB Damarious Randall (hamstring)
WR Davante Adams (ankle), T David Bakhtiari (knee), T Bryan Bulaga (knee), S Morgan Burnett (ankle), LB Jay Elliott (ankle), RB Eddie Lacy (ankle), G T.J. Lang (shoulder), LB Clay Matthews (ankle, knee), RB Aaron Ripkowski (ankle), G Josh Sitton (knee)
For the Panthers, if Corey Brown is out, then Devin Funchess figures to be a Sneaky Start once again. With Zach Ertz and Ryan Mathews out, Brent Celek and Darren Sproles both get a bump. Celek is a top 10 play this week in a nice matchup with the Lions. Calvin Johnson is questionable but is expected to play. With Martellus Bennett sidelined, Zachary Miller is also a Sneaky Start at the tight end position. He has been very involved the last few weeks and the Packers just gave up a boatload of fantasy points to Kyle Rudolph last week. Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte are both expected to play, but the Bears have been very devious when it comes to handing out injury information. Don't be shocked if either is inactive on Thursday evening. If they both return, it will obviously put a dent in the upside of Marquess Wilson and Jeremy Langford, respectively.
Although Darren McFadden has received the majority of the team's carries the last four games, his workload could be reduced in what will likely be wet conditions at Miami's Sun Life Stadium.
If McFadden is healthy enough to play, we expect that he'll get the vast majority of the touches considering that the apparent RB2 (Turbin, not Smith) just recently joined the team.
Friday, November 20, 2015, 6:29pm
Cowboys RB Darren McFadden (groin, questionable) took limited practice reps again Friday and is questionable for Week 11. Midweek downgrades are never good, especially given McFadden’s long and sorted injury history, but the return to Friday practice is encouraging. Ian Rapoport reported that the Cowboys are just trying to keep McFadden fresh. Rod Smith is apparently the RB2 in Dallas right now.
Thursday, November 19, 2015, 5:53pm
Cowboys RB Darren McFadden (groin) was added to the injury report Thursday after taking limited practice reps. Midweek downgrades are never good, especially given McFadden’s long and sorted injury history. Ian Rapoport reported that the Cowboys are just trying to keep McFadden fresh. His Friday participation will be key. Rod Smith is apparently the RB2 in Dallas right now.
Friday, October 30, 2015, 6:45pm
Cowboys RB Joseph Randle (back, out) missed practice all week and is out for Week 8. Randle is out this week and is facing disciplinary action for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Darren McFadden will get the start and Christine Michael will serve as the change-of-pace back. It’s a very tough matchup against Seattle, but the Dallas offensive line should be able to create a few opportunities.
Thursday, October 29, 2015, 6:14pm
Cowboys RB Joseph Randle (back) missed practice again Thursday. Randle is out this week and is facing disciplinary action for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Darren McFadden will get the start and Christine Michael will serve as the change-of-pace back. It’s a very tough matchup against Seattle, but the Dallas offensive line should be able to create a few opportunities for McFadden.
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