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Keeping Murray healthy is paramount

Pro Football Weekly
Key matchup: Saints defense vs. Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray

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Key matchup: Saints defense vs. Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray

What a difference having Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray on the field makes, even a less-than-fully-healthy version of himself. Murray returned to the lineup for the first time in six games, and even though he was not back to full form, Murray’s presence in the lineup was a huge difference.

It was evident in one particular carry, both Murray’s impact on the offense and how he’s not fully healed yet. Murray’s longest run of the win over the Eagles, a 27-yard bit of creativity, came in the third quarter when he was hemmed in on a 3rd-and-1 from the Cowboys’ 42-yard line. The Eagles had collapsed the line, nothing was there, and yet Murray bounced it outside and down the sideline for a field-flipping gain.

But you still could see in the way that Murray didn’t pull away from Eagles LB Casey Matthews and ran out of bounds that if he was all the way back, Murray might have threatened to score on that one. Still, the presence of a run game resulted in one of QB Tony Romo's more accurate games this season. Say what you want about the Eagles' defense, but having to worry about both Murray and the passing game stresses even good units, too.

Felix Jones was drafted to make those kinds of plays, but injuries (especially to his knee) have sapped him of that kind of ability. Murray also was taken with those types of runs in mind, and when healthy (or close to it) he can pop those and frustrate a defense. He also added a layer of toughness that isn’t always there with the Cowboys when he’s out of the lineup.

The question now becomes, will he ever stay healthy? Both Jones and Murray have been plagued with nagging injuries, even dating back to their college careers, which could force the Cowboys to address the position in some form in the offseason for insurance purposes.

Still, for now, having glimpses of Murray’s burst back in the lineup is a huge boon.

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