Another day in Oxnard. Another injury at training camp. Another reminder that Emmitt Smith was indeed superhuman.
The Cowboys haven’t had many days at camp with all three of top running backs healthy. Lance Dunbar has been hobbled by an ankle, Darren McFadden just got onto the field after a hamstring injury and, now, a setback for starter Joseph Randle.
The No. 1 back suffered a strained oblique muscle a 10 days ago, and aggravated the same injury in Thursday’s practice. He left the field and, after a quick talk with head coach Jason Garrett, headed to the locker room for treatment. Seems doubtful that he’ll play Sunday at San Francisco.
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“It’s the same thing I had earlier in camp,” Randle told reporters after practice. “Flared up on me again.”
Trying to replace NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray is difficult enough with a healthy stable. But almost a month into camp and the Cowboys’ committee has yet to be fit enough to even hold a legitimate competition for playing time.
Which makes No. 22’s accomplishments all that more impressive. Smith is a Hall of Famer and the league’s all-time leading rusher, not with flash and style but rather with consistency and, above all, durability.
While McFadden has battled injuries his entire career and Randle and Dunbar are proving to be susceptible to missing time with various aliments, Smith was a colossal constant for the ‘90s’ Cowboys’ dynasty.
During his 13 years in Dallas the Cowboys played 225 games counting the playoffs. Smith suited up for 218 of them, missing only five because of injury (he missed two in ’93 in a contract holdout). And he, of course, played through a separated shoulder during the Cowboys' '93 Super Bowl run. For most of his career head coach Jimmy Johnson protected his runner, preventing him from carrying the ball in full-pads tackling drills in camp and holding him out of all but a series or two of pre-season games.
The Cowboys obviously aren’t looking for Smith’s productivity from this current group of backs. But, collectively perhaps, they can at least hope to have one healthy runner per game.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.