IRVING, Texas (AP) — Darren McFadden wants to be one of the replacements for NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray.
If he is one of two, or even three, running backs trying to match the production Murray gave NFC East champion Dallas last season, that's fine, too. McFadden is used to it.
"It's something I've done pretty much throughout my career, at school or being with the Raiders," said McFadden, the fourth overall pick out of Arkansas by Oakland in 2008. "It's one of those deals, it's the NFL, it's a long season."
The Cowboys are familiar with McFadden's history, starting with owner Jerry Jones and executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones being fellow Razorbacks.
Felix Jones — McFadden's backfield mate in Arkansas — went to Dallas 18 picks later at No. 22 in the first round seven years ago, and he spent five seasons with the Cowboys before Murray took the lead role. The Cowboys added McFadden as an affordable free agent in March, a day after Murray signed a big contract with division rival Philadelphia.
Joseph Randle, Murray's backup for two seasons as a fifth-round pick, still appears to be the front-runner to start the opener Sept. 13 at home against the New York Giants. But McFadden made his biggest move yet last weekend, rushing for 37 yards on four carries in a 28-14 loss to Minnesota.
"That's a glimpse of what I can do out there if I get a little room to run," said McFadden, who had seven mostly disappointing and injury-plagued seasons with the Raiders. "I feel like everybody got a chance to see that. It's something that I just want to keep building on."
The Cowboys don't appear any closer to having settled on a primary back than a month ago when they reported to training camp in California.
Jerry Jones isn't concerned because his primary consideration from the start of camp was health, and Dallas showed it by sitting McFadden for the first two weeks with a minor hamstring injury.
"I'm not taking anything away from reps or honing your game or getting better," Jones said Tuesday on his radio show. "But basically what I am saying is we know a lot about what a lot of players can do."
McFadden hinted at the plan for Thursday's preseason finale against Houston, and seemed to suggest he would be sitting along with Randle and Lance Dunbar, the third back in the equation. If so, the bulk of the work would go to the long shots to make the Dallas roster.
And it would mean the top three have had all the work they will get in the preseason, which is fine by Randle.
"We're ready to go," he said.
Coach Jason Garrett said he believes all three got enough work, even though Randle missed some time with muscle tightness in his side and back and Dunbar was out almost two weeks with a sprained right ankle.
"I think we have a pretty good feel for what each of those guys is and what we expect from them," Garrett said. "There has been good competition and I think they feel the competition to make the football team but also for roles on the team."
Randle has 13 carries for 45 yards in the preseason to McFadden's 41 yards on seven rushes. Dunbar has just one carry.
"They just gave us a little taste, just a little taste," Randle said. "It's still an opportunity to go out there and get better and to show what you can do."
The next opportunity is likely when the carries count against the Giants.
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