The search for DeMarco Murray’s replacement will go on without Darren McFadden practicing at the start of training camp. On Thursday, he was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list with a hamstring injury.
McFadden, 27, was dealing with the hamstring injury in organized team activities in June. He was limited then and doing rehab work on the side during competitive drills. McFadden can be removed from the active/PUP list once he is medically cleared. He can then practice immediately.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old McFadden hasn't cracked 3.5 YPC since the 2011 season, when he ran for 614 yards on 113 carries (5.4 YPC) in seven games. That's the rub with McFadden -- fantasy owners haven't been able to count on his durability. He has missed roughly a quarter of his team's games since entering the league. We believe he’ll serve as a change-of-pace/3rd-down back behind Joseph Randle.
Even though DeMarco Murray led the NFL in rushing last season (and carried the ball more times than any other player since 2006), Chip Kelly has said since the spring that he does not want the Eagles to rely on one running back as much as they did during the past two seasons. So expect Ryan Mathews to also have a big role in the offense.
“If you have multiple backs you don’t lose anything when you take one out, and I think we probably relied on one too much in the last couple of years,” Kelly said. “But I have great confidence in those other guys that when they go into the game you don’t have to change what you’re doing. Ryan and DeMarco are very similar in terms of how they run and what they’re doing so it’s almost like you think you catch your breath when you take DeMarco out of the game but then here comes Ryan, that’s going to be a real difficult task for people, I think.”
Murray had a career year in his fourth season, racking up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 449 touches. He should get plenty of work in Philadelphia, though the signing of Ryan Mathews and the presence of Darren Sproles make it very unlikely that he’ll surpass 400 touches in 2015. LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches over the past two seasons, so that’s probably Murray’s ceiling if everyone stays healthy. He should hold low-end RB1 value, though the presence of Mathews and Sproles may make even that a stretch.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 11:46am
He was fourth in the running back chase to replace DeMarco Murray behind Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar. Williams had two arthroscopic surgeries on his knee in the offseason, the most recent coming after the Cowboys' June minicamp.
Williams spent last year on the Cowboys' practice squad, spurning chances late in the season to join other teams' active rosters. The Cowboys rewarded him with a two-year deal that included a $240,000 signing bonus.
There was some consternation, both among fans and media, that the Cowboys lost an integral part of their offense when running back DeMarco Murray signed with the Eagles. But the price -- a five-year, $42 million deal ($21 million guaranteed) -- was prohibitive and the Cowboys were right to look for running back help elsewhere.
A lot can happen between the start of training camp and the regular season, and the Cowboys will no doubt be on the lookout for backs that can help them. And that list could include Chris Johnson, the former Titans first-round pick who struggled with the Jets last season and remains unsigned.
If the Johnson-Cowboys rumors sound familiar, they should; CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote earlier this month that several NFL executives brought up Dallas as a possible landing spot for Johnson. And Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said in May that Johnson was on the team's short list, according to the story. It could be significant news for those targeting, or looking to keep, Joseph Randle.
RB DeMarco Murray will not be counted on to carry the full load for the Eagles like he did in Dallas, where he accounted for 77 percent of the team's total carries, outpacing the second-leading rusher, Randle, by 341 carries. The presence of Ryan Mathews, himself a two-time 1,000-yard rusher, and Darren Sproles should mitigate the workload placed on Murray.
Last year, among the three top running backs, the split on carries went 75 percent to McCoy, 14 percent to Sproles and 11 percent to Polk. It's hard not to envision HC Chip Kelly opting to creep those percentages closer to something like 55-60 percent for Murray, 25-30 percent for Mathews and the remaining touches for Sproles.
Conveniently enough, we project Murray for 58.1% of the touches, with Mathews checking in at 27.1% and Sproles getting the remaining 14.8%. The article also notes that among the seven running backs who carried the ball at least 380 times in a season (and also played the following year), only two played more than 12 games, and the overall YPC dropped from 4.60 YPC in the 380-plus carry seasons to 3.60 YPC the following year. Four of the seven running backs played fewer than nine games. It remains to be seen if Kelly's superior sports science program can help Murray buck this trend.
Beat writer Andrew Kulp projected a timeshare in the Eagles' backfield:
With DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews splitting up carries—and I do believe the distribution could be closer to 50/50—the Eagles can keep both fresh, not to mention are prepared in case one gets injured.
This is the concern with drafting Murray early -- just how much will Ryan Mathews play? We currently project Murray with 290 carries and 29 receptions (or 319 touches), with Mathews coming in at 138/11 (or 149 total touches). This is essentially a 2-to-1 split, and that makes Murray our #9 RB in standard formats. If Kulp's prediction comes true, Murray will be severely overdrafted in 2015.
The Dallas Cowboys and their franchised-tagged star wideout Dez Bryant have hammered out a long-term contract ahead of Wednesday's 4 p.m. ET deadline. Bryant agreed in principle to a five-year, $70 million deal with $45 million guaranteed, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported. While nowhere close to the $16 million per year earned by Detroit's Calvin Johnson, Bryant's $14 million average per season exceeds the $12.82 million he would have made in 2015 by signing his franchise tag. The new pact puts to bed a summer-long drama that saw negotiations flatline between Dallas and Bryant.
Bryant is coming off a monster campaign that saw him set a career mark with 16 touchdowns, and he rolls into September as the heart and soul of a Cowboys offense, especially now with RB DeMarco Murray leaving for the Eagles. Bryant has emerged over five seasons as a top-five NFL wideout, both in real life and the fantasy world. We rank Bryant fourth on our WR list, but he's getting drafted as a top-three fantasy WR, and in the first round. Owners and potential owners can now rest easy because Bryant had threatened to miss camp and games if no long-term deal was reached. He should be poised for another big season as the center point of the Dallas offense, especially with the questions surrounding the running game.
Cowboys beat writer Brandon George thinks Dallas will run the same kind of offense even with the loss of RB DeMarco Murray to free agency.
George: The Cowboys, I believe, will go about their offense the same way as last year with emphasizing the run game behind a dominant offensive line. At least early in the season. If the run game starts to struggle, you could see them start to shy away from it and put the ball int he hands of QB Tony Romo more again. And that hasn't always been positive. They need a strong rushing game again to make this offense click.
In another question, George went on to say he believes Joseph Randle is the team's RB1, but Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden will also have roles in the running game.
George added that things could change but he'd "put [his] money on Randle at this point." We agree with George and have Randle ranked the highest among the Dallas backs - coming in 24th with an ADP of the sixth round in 10 team leagues. If he can manage to keep the RB1 role, he could provide owners with some nice value from that draft slot.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015, 12:59pm
During organized team activities and minicamp, Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar has been one of Tony Romo’s favorite targets in third down situations. One of Dunbar’s best traits is his ability to take advantage of open space. Romo targeted DeMarco Murray 130 times over the last two seasons. A large chunk of those passes could be headed in Dunbar’s direction.
Eagles writer Dave Spadaro: If I had to say one player who stood out, it would be running back DeMarco Murray. He is much more fluid as a pass catcher than I thought, and he's in tremendous shape and just looks like he "fits" into this offensive structure perfectly. The backfield is a must-see group with all of that talent.
Murray had a career year in his fourth season, racking up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 449 touches. He should get plenty of work in Philadelphia, though the signing of Ryan Mathews and the presence of Darren Sproles make it very unlikely that he’ll approach 450 touches in 2015. LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches over the past two seasons, so that’s probably Murray’s ceiling if everyone stays healthy. He’ll hold low-end RB1 value, though the presence of Mathews and Sproles may make even that a stretch. Chip Kelly did not utilize McCoy much as a receiver last season.
Eagles beat writer was asked to predict how the team will divvy up the carries:
Eagles running backs had about 26 carries per game last season. Overall, the team had 474 rushing attempts, which ranked seventh in the NFL. I think there's a good chance those numbers could increase this season. Running backs coach Duce Staley has already said the offense wants to regain its identity, and that identity is a run-based spread.
My guess (and I reserve the right to change this in August!) is that Murray would get around 17 carries per game; Mathews would get seven; and Darren Sproles would get two.
Assuming Murray stays healthy the whole season, that would translate to 272 carries. Only four running backs in the NFL had more than that last season.
Cowboys RB Joseph Randle averaged 6.7 yards a carry off the bench in 2014. He can average well over 5.0 getting 20-plus carries a game as a starter as long as he plays with the discipline that DeMarco Murray sometimes lacked.
Randle’s only obstacle to 1,500-plus yards is Darren McFadden, a fascinating wild card in this backfield equation. In between hamstring pulls and ankles sprains, McFadden has proven to be an excellent straight-line runner. But if Murray is “plywood” on the stiffness scale, McFadden is “oak.” My good friend Greg Cosell of NFL Films once said it best: it’s like McFadden’s lower body and upper body are fused together. An inability to make people miss was something previous Raider coaching staffs didn’t like about the former first-round running back.
The article goes on to say that McFadden might end up being the better fit since Randle's elusiveness may lead to him making poor decisions in the running game. Randle was highly effective (6.7 YPC) in 2014 and is reportedly showing more maturity after several off-the-field issues. He's not going to see a DeMarco Murray-type workload, but 225-250 carries is feasible if he wins the lead back job, and it appears he will.
Eagles RB DeMarco Murray is drawing rave reviews during his first spring as an Eagle, including from running backs coach Duce Staley during his media availability with the rest of the Eagles' assistant coaches last week.
"He's a perfect fit for us," Staley said. "He's exactly what we want to do: full steam, downhill and full steam ahead. That's what we're preaching every day; one, two, three, four yards and a cloud of dust. And all the backs that we have are able to do that."
Murray had a career year in his fourth season, racking up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 449 touches. He should get plenty of work in Philadelphia, though the signing of Ryan Mathews and the presence of Darren Sproles indicate that he won’t approach 450 touches in 2015. LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches over the past two seasons, so that’s probably Murray’s ceiling if everyone stays healthy. He’ll hold low-end RB1 value on draft day.
Question: What are Joseph Randle's biggest strengths in trying to win the starting RB position?
Jon Machota: Quickness, athleticism and versatility. Randle has very good hands. He had 80 receptions over his last two years at Oklahoma State. As long as he's available, meaning he's staying out of trouble, I believe the starting job is his. As a player, I think he's ready for the opportunity. I don't think he'll be as successful as Murray was in short -yardage situations but he'll hit more home runs.
Randle was highly effective (6.7 YPC) in 2014 and is reportedly showing more maturity after several off-the-field issues. He's not going to see a DeMarco Murray-type workload, but 225-250 carries is feasible if he wins the lead back job.
Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur revealed the plan Wednesday although he declined to put a percentage on the way touches would be divvied up.
“They’re two really fine players,” Shurmur said at a coaches availability. “They’re two guys that have been starters in places that they’ve been and they’re going to come here and kind of share the role. I think that’s terrific that that’s their mindset. It shows us that you’ve got really, really fine players that understand it’s important to be a good teammate. Any time you can add good players to a unit you make yourself better because you need more than one to play the year.”
There are a variety of ways that the two players can 'share the role,' though this isn't the kind of talk that DeMarco Murray owners want to hear at this point in the offseason. We have Murray projected for 285 carries to Mathews' 132, which is approximately a 2-to-1 split.
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