Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan ran the Detroit Lions offense last season, and he had one of the league’s best running back duos in Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. His ability to get both players involved in the passing game was huge for the Lions offense, as Bell and Bush racked up receptions out of the backfield. It looks like Linehan plans on doing the same with his running back duo in Dallas, and we’ll get a taste of just how often he’ll utilize his backs in the passing game during the preseason. DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar have the ability to be solid pass-catching backs as safety valves for Tony Romo, so we’ll see how they fare out and how often they are used in the passing game.
It’s clear that Murray is a talented feature back, and he was terrific last season with the only complaint being that the Cowboys didn’t hand him the rock enough. The Cowboys running game will be more prominent next season both in usage and ability, since Dunbar looks poised for a much bigger role under Linehan.
The offensive coordinator sounds pretty excited to try and tap some of Dunbar’s potential, which he flashed on Thanksgiving by rushing for 82 yards on just 12 carries against the Oakland Raiders. It’s important to temper expectations when talking about an unproven backup, but Dunbar is very intriguing at this point in the offseason.
Linehan had some effusive praise for the 24-year-old North Texas product, via ESPN Dallas’s Calvin Watkins, “I think the guy’s got a real versatile role package for us. He can run it. He can catch it. He has the ability to light it up and in a lot of locations and that’s what you want to do with those guys. The one thing I’ve noticed is his ability as a runner when we run the football with him and he’s lined up there. When he gets his reps, see him making very good cuts and looks like he’s got a great ability to accelerate and get through that hole. So it’ll be fun watching this kid play next year.”
Most of the praise is directed at Dunbar’s rushing ability, which is the most important thing. But it’s worth noting that Linehan states that the RB2 can both run and catch, which is another hint that he’ll try to get Dunbar involved as a pass-catcher.