Joseph Randle was the starting running back for Dallas until Darren McFadden had the team's first 100-yard game of the season last weekend.
Now the third-year back's status is in question with him taking time away from the team to deal with an unspecified personal issue while already ruled out of Sunday's game against Seattle with a back injury.
Randle appeared at practice Wednesday before leaving the team's facility, and he left after a brief appearance at the facility Thursday morning. Coach Jason Garrett declined to discuss the specifics of Randle's absence.
"We have players who for different reasons, at different times can't be here, whether it's a family issue, a personal issue of some kind," Garrett said. "We address them, we solve them and then move on. We certainly try to support our players in every way we can."
Randle started the first six games for the Cowboys (2-4), but Garrett said McFadden would get the nod against the Seahawks (3-4) after rushing for 152 yards on 29 carries last week against the New York Giants.
It was the most yards for McFadden since 2011 and the most carries since 2012, both with Oakland after the Raiders made him the No. 4 overall pick in 2008. McFadden signed with Dallas a day after NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray chose Philadelphia in free agency.
After his back bothered him at times in training camp, Randle was sidelined after two carries against New York. Christine Michael and Rod Smith, who both started the season with Seattle, are the backups to McFadden.
Michael came in a trade the first week of the season, and Smith was claimed on waivers two weeks ago. Smith is likely to be active for the first time with the Cowboys against his former team.
Randle's absence comes about a year after he was arrested on a shoplifting charge at a Dallas-area shopping mall. He was arrested again four months later in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, and police investigated a domestic disturbance complaint before declining to pursue charges against him.
While the case was being investigated, NFL officials showed up in Wichita to gather information on the case, something the league has said it will do under a revised personal conduct policy that includes a six-game suspension for a first offense in a domestic violence case.
An NFL spokesman said Thursday he had no information on whether the league had issued a report on Randle or was planning to discipline him.
Through the offseason and training camp, Randle remained the favorite to start in place of Murray, even after running afoul of coaches by suggesting Murray's franchise-record 1,845 yards rushing in 2014 could have been better because "there was a lot of meat on the bone."
Randle's best showing was early in a loss to Atlanta in Week 3 when he had 85 yards on his first three carries, including the first of three first-half touchdowns on a 37-yarder. But he had just 2 yards on his final 11 runs and was similarly inconsistent in other games. Randle has 315 yards and four touchdowns on 76 carries.
"Right now, we're on to our seventh game," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "What guys' roles are are defined by the week that we're in. So it's kind of the nature of the game and where we are at this particular week. But each week is a new week, and this is no different."
Jason Witten said he had yet to reach out to Randle.
"We'll handle that stuff in here," the 13th-year tight end said. "I think a lot of us were not aware of a whole lot with what's going on. When we do find out, I think we'll handle it that way."
NOTES: WR Dez Bryant was listed as limited in practice for the second straight day as he tries to return from a broken right foot after missing five games. ... S Barry Church (ankle) and CB Morris Claiborne (illness) didn't practice.