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June 20, 2013

Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner, who looked like he was being phased out last year, more confident after spring work

Running back Phillip Tanner looked quicker and more explosive in the spring practices.

He believes he is.

“I worked a lot on my quickness and explosiveness,” the third-year running back said during the veteran mini-camp at Valley Ranch last week. “I lost a little weight and leaned up a little bit. I’m able to see things and hit the hole without hesitating.”

Tanner, a former Dallas Kimball standout, played his way onto the roster in 2011 as an undrafted player out of Middle Tennessee State. But in the last half of 2012, the Cowboys used him less and less as Lance Dunbar emerged, and it looked like Tanner was falling out of favor. When the Cowboys drafted another running back, Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle, and signed an undrafted back, Kendial Lawrence of Missouri, it only added to the perception.

Tanner said he put all that out of his mind.

“Coming in and working hard every day, working with the offensive line and jelling with my team is the big thing,” he said.

First-year running backs coach Gary Brown didn’t see Tanner last year. But he said every aspect of Tanner’s game has impressed him.

“From what I’ve seen so far, he looks like he’s in great shape,” Brown said. “He’s studying. He knows what he’s doing and not making any mental errors.”

-- Christian Clark

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