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August 23, 2011

DeMarco Murray practices for the first time

Rookie running back DeMarco Murray failed to pick up the blitz during a walk-through play and was called out by backup quarterback Jon Kitna. The Cowboys ran the play over. Murray can be excused. It was his first day on the job.

The Cowboys are trying to catch up Murrary after he missed the first 20 practices and two preseason games with an injured hamstring.

"It has been a long wait," Murray said. "The last time I played or practiced was January. So I’m just happy to be here."

Murray, a third-round pick, had been expected to compete for the backup running back job behind Felix Jones. But he and Tashard Choice have been sidelined together. Choice practiced once before injuring his calf. He, too, returned Tuesday.

“Well we’re going to use more than one back," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "I think that’s the nature of the league in this day and age. Those runners take a lot of pounding. Ideally, you want to have a bell cow and you want to have a guy who’s your lead dog and the other guys fit themselves in whether it’s situationally or things they do well. They're good inside runners; they’re good outside runners; they’re space runners; they're receivers; all of those things. We’re fortunate that we feel like each of those three backs that we have - I’m talking about Felix, Tashard and now DeMarco - we feel like they have versatility so they’re not just one kind of a back."

While he left Oklahoma with several school records, including all-purpose yards (6,948) and touchdowns (64), Murray missed five games in four college seasons with a dislocated knee cap, hamstring and knee injuries.

But Murray said his durability is not a question.

"It’s definitely been hard, been a struggle," Murray said. "But my teammates picked me up and let me know it’s going to be OK, and just let me realize, hey, this is a marathon and not a sprint. So just take care of yourself and get back here 100 percent healthy."

-- Charean Williams



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