Cowboys beat writer Todd Archer projects that Ryan Williams won't make the 53-man roster.
Archer: How in the world could I keep Ryan Williams off the roster? It was a tough decision, but the fact that he was limited in the spring because of a swollen knee didn’t help his cause. He can work his way into the mix this summer and with his work in the preseason games. Even if I can envision the Cowboys keeping four tailbacks, I have a hard time seeing them taking all four to the game, which makes that spot tenuous at best on the 53-man roster, as teams generally use back-of-the-roster spots on players they might want to groom.
Williams was recently a dark horse in the running back competition, but he's still experiencing swelling in his knee. It's good news for Joseph Randle who is currently in line for a big jump in touches after a productive (if limited) role last season.
Hamstring injuries at this time of year are not alarming, but this isn't going to generate any confidence in McFadden's ability to hold up as the team's starter given his injury history. Randle is looking like a good bet to finish the season with the most touches.
Cowboys writer Bryan Broaddus on the running back situation at OTAs:
Joseph Randle took the snaps with the first offense to open practice, but each back got the opportunity to show what they had with the group. If you watch our OTA Live on DallasCowboys.com, the one back that will jump out at you during the team period is Ryan Williams. Williams did not practice on Tuesday, but he took full advantage of the snaps he got on Wednesday. Williams’ best trait is his ability to explode, and he was able to display that for all to see. What I have learned about watching him play is that it doesn’t take much to get him in the open field and into the second level. He was impressive.
Williams is the dark horse in the Cowboys' backfield competition, though durability is a major concern. If he continues to outperform Randle, we'll have to adjust our expectations, but for now we believe Randle has the inside track for the RB1 job.
Cowboys site writer Bryan Broaddus on the team's running back situation:
When practices are open to the media on Wednesday, I believe that you will see Joseph Randle running with the first offense while Darren McFadden, Ryan Williams and Lance Dunbar will serve as the main backups. Randle will get the nod over McFadden for the simple reason that he was the backup to DeMarco Murray last season. McFadden appears to be motivated to take this job, and with the target on Randle’s back, I am wondering if he in fact can hold McFadden off for the job? If you asked me who I felt was the most complete back for the job, I would say that it is McFadden. Randle is talented for the scheme but the question will always be is if he mature enough to not let the pressure of trying to win the job affect how he performs. We will be able to see how serious he really is about the job and responsibility now that DeMarco Murray is no longer in the picture.
McFadden is going ahead of Randle in early drafts, but we view Randle as the better bet. He 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.
“More than anything it’s competition,” Witten said. “That’s what Coach Garrett has tried to do a good job of bringing in competition and having us compete. That’s a position I think we’re all excited to see where it’ll go.”
When asked specifically about Randle, who was arrested twice in the last year, Witten said he thinks the third-year back has learned from his experiences and “decided to kind of embrace this opportunity.”
“He’s had good workouts,” Witten said. “I could tell he’s focused, he’s locked in. I think he sees the opportunity he has in front of him. I think he wants everybody to have that trust in him that he can be the guy.”
The Cowboys' running back competition will be one of the most closely watched camp battles in the league. Whoever wins the job has RB1 potential running behind the team's talented offensive line. Randle is the most intriguing back in the group given the 6.7 YPC he posted last season. If he can prove he can be trusted (after a host of off the field issues), he could be a breakout player in 2015.
Cowboys RB coach Gary Brown broke down the team's backfield:
“I just admired him from afar, watching him on tape. I think he’s big, strong, incredibly fast, tough guy. He’s buying into our system. He wants to be here. He’s doing everything I ask him to do. I’m looking forward to seeing him in pads. … I’ve been out here watching him run. He looks very fast. We’re just looking forward to seeing him in pads in our system.”
“I think Joe really has to make sure he takes care of everything on and off the field. We want to trust Joe, we like Joe, but we want to make sure he’s going to be with us at all times. I think he’s maturing up and he’s getting better and he understands the opportunity he has in front of him and I think he’ll take full advantage. I think those days are behind him and we’re looking forward to working with Joe. … Just being around him these last few weeks, he seems to be more mature to me. He and I have sat down and had one-on-one conversations about his future and I think he wants to go in the right direction.”
“I envision [him getting more opportunities]. I think he’s a hell of a football player, we’ve got to try and get him more involved and I think coach Linehan is going to do a great job doing that. … [He didn’t get more carries last season] because I think the run game was so explosive and DeMarco was running so well. It’s just like anything in life, you’ve got a guy who is hot, you want to ride that guy and make sure he gets his touches and I think we did the right thing by getting him his touches. Obviously with, what was it, 1,800 yards and 13, 14 touchdowns, whatever it was, I think we made the right decision.”
Brown later said he might have been premature not also mentioning Ryan Williams with that group.
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. Randle averaged 6.7 YPC behind the Dallas offensive line last season, but has had a host of off-the-field issues. Dunbar is more of a third down back, while Williams is a former second round pick who has been unable to stay healthy. The team has insinuated that it still may trade for a running back or sign a free agent (like Chris Johnson or perhaps Ray Rice), so the backfield is far from settled. McFadden is currently the first Dallas running back off the board in the 7th round.
Dallas Cowboys site writer David Helman on how the team will use OTAs to evaluate the RB corps:
"Ever since the draft ended, we’ve heard the Cowboys say that they aren’t ruling out the possibility of adding another running back before the season. If I had to take an educated guess, I’d say they’re going to use OTAs and minicamp to take a hard look at the guys on the roster. Those practices should give them a better idea of how well they can handle it. If they aren’t confident in those four by the end of OTAs, I bet they’ll go add another guy this summer."
Cowboys beat writer David Moore on the team's "by committee" running back situation: "They made a point of saying if they had not gotten (Darren McFadden) in free agency, they would have approached it differently in the draft. They would have felt they had to get a running back."
On Ryan Williams, Moore said, "Several teams, when he was on the practice squad last year, came after him to get him, to try to steal him, which any team can do. The Cowboys convinced him to stay. 'You have a future here, we like what you're doing.' I think you're going to see something from him."
He also discussed Joseph Randle: "And Joseph Randle, temperamentally there are questions about him, but the guy averaged 6.7 yards per carry last year. He's that big-play back that can really help them."
This is a camp battle to watch closely. Whoever emerges as the lead back should be able to post good fantasy numbers. At this point our money is on Randle (6.7 YPC last year), but McFadden could thrive behind the team's talented offensive line, providing he stays healthy. Williams is the dark horse.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 10:48am
RB Ryan Williams, the former Arizona Cardinals second-round pick who signed with the Cowboys this summer, raised eyebrows with his impressive running late in Saturday's preseason game. But Joseph Randle, who the Cowboys gave a third-round grade coming out of Oklahoma State, has performed better on the whole since camp started and has consistently been ahead of Williams on the depth chart.
"Joe Randle right now is really playing outstanding," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 FM The Fan. "That's not an exaggeration."
Randle, who averaged only 3.0 yards per carry last season, has gained 91 yards on 20 carries in two preseason games, getting a lot of his work against the San Diego Chargers' starters. He looks more decisive and more elusive than he did last season.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 9:34am
Joseph Randle has the inside track for the No. 3 job and would likely take over the every-down role if something were to happen to Murray. He will be pushed by Ryan Williams, who is a former second-round pick. He was unable to stay healthy in his time with the Arizona Cardinals but he has natural ability that could push him by Randle, a fifth-round pick last year.
Murray's handcuff could be an important roster spot on your fantasy team as he often struggles to stay healthy for a full season. It looks like Randle has the inside track but Williams could be an interesting name to watch in camp.
Williams, the 38th overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft, was cut by the Arizona Cardinals this week. He played in just five games over three seasons due to injuries.
He missed the 2011 season after rupturing the patella tendon in his right knee. In 2012, he played in five games before a shoulder injury ended his season.
OC Scott Linehan reportedly loves Lance Dunbar, so Williams may not have a shot at the RB2 job in 2014.
Sunday, December 29, 2013, 3:04pm
Carson Palmer (elbow) is active and starting as expected.
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