With both of the Cowboys’ top two rushers missing the portion of today’s practice that was open to media members, that raises the profile _ and the potential workload _ of backups Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.
Dallas’ top rusher, DeMarco Murry, is expected to miss the Giants game with a sprained foot. Backup Felix Jones injured his knee in Sunday’s 19-14 victory over Carolina, which opened the door for Tanner to log a career-high 13 carries against the Panthers, including a key fourth-quarter trap play that set up the Cowboys’ go-ahead field goal.
Tanner has 44 career carries in his two seasons for 137 yards and a touchdown. Included are 22 carries for 61 yards this season. Dunbar, a rookie who played at North Texas and Haltom High School, gained 11 yards on his lone carry of the season in the team’s 31-29 loss at Baltimore.
If his role expands this week against the Giants, Tanner _ who played at Dallas Kimball High School _ said he is ready.
“I’m just coming in to work every day, trying to get better than I was the day before. So if I was good at 13 carries, I’ll try to be better at 14. And on and on and on,” said Tanner, also a key special-teams contributor. “I like whatever kind of role I’m in. I’m just going take advantage of whatever type of opportunity they allow me to do.”
Dunbar, likewise, said he would welcome more carries if the coaches carve them out for him in Sunday’s game plan.
“I’m prepared, just like if I was (starting). In case it happens, I’ll be ready,” Dunbar said.
Asked about his level of expertise with the Cowboys’ offense as a rookie, Dunbar said: “I’m pretty comfortable. I’ve been doing this for a while now. So I have confidence in myself and my ability.”
_ Jimmy Burch