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May 21, 2013

Cowboys expect running game to be better, but they need Murray, who has a tweaked hamstring, to be healthy

The Cowboys have made several moves this offseason that they expect to make them a better running team. After setting the team record for fewest rushing yards in a 16-game season in 2012, the Cowboys drafted center Travis Frederick and running back Joseph Randle. They also could use more zone running.

But the key is keeping starter DeMarco Murray on the field.

Murray missed Tuesday's first organized team activity with a tweaked hamstring. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he expects Murray to return soon, possibly early next week.

"He has a little hamstring tweak that’s been bothering him for the last week or so," Garrett said. "We don’t want to put any of those guys in a situation where they’re going to take a backward step. Obviously, you want them all out there going 100 mph, but we’ve got to understand that it is May 21st. This is OTA 1, and we have a long way to go. So we’ll take a conservative approach."

Murray has 1,560 career yards, but he has missed nine games with injuries in his two seasons. He was out for six games with a foot injury in 2012.

"You can just coach him hard and try to encourage him and try to just make sure he’s doing the right thing to take care of his body, because a lot of those injuries are freak things," new running backs coach Gary Brown said. "Nothing we can do about it. He just has to be blessed with a 16-game season, and hopefully, that will happen."

The Cowboys also were without rookie Joseph Randle, who is expected to backup Murray. The fifth-round pick is recovering from thumb surgery. Both Murray and Randle did some rehab work during practice.

Lance Dunbar, Phillip Tanner and Kendial Lawrence got much of the work in team drills.

-- Charean Williams

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