Cowboys Cliff Harris: On DeMarco + 'Igniters'

'I don't think they were a confident team before,' says Cliff Harris, the Cowboys icon, talking about today's team. 'That defense and that running game really helped them to develop the whole team.' But Cliff thinks this D needs an 'igniter' and fears the offense will struggle to replace DeMarco. Come inside!

Cliff on the Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys icon Cliff Harris believes the departure of running back DeMarco Murray to Philadelphia could be troublesome for his favorite team ... but hopes the defense includes a game-changing "igniter'' who can make up for it.


"Murray, I think, was a critical element in that whole scheme," Harris said Thursday at the 2015 Texas Sports Hall of Fame inductions. "I don't know. I think it could be a real detriment to us if we lose him."

Though Murray, who set the Cowboys single-season rushing yards total at 1,845, was a significant player in Harris' mind, the two-time Super Bowl champion thinks Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who has been linked the Cowboys all off-season, would be a fine replacement.

"I think that running game is going to be an element that they are going to have to replace, whether it's Adrian Peterson or it's someone," said Harris. "Because I think that complements Tony.

"We need a good complement to Tony Romo, help Tony Romo."

While Murray scampered into the franchise's record books, Romo led the Cowboys to a 12-4 finish and a wildcard playoff victory over the Detroit Lions. His 34 touchdowns were the second-most in his career, while his nine interceptions tied a personal best. Romo also led the league with a 113.2 passer rating and finished third in MVP voting. Inside Valley Ranch, folks agree with Cliff -- not necessarily tied to AD, but certainly tied to examining a draft-worthy running back to play ahead of just-signed Darren McFadden.

Harris also likes the direction of the defense under coordinator Rod Marinelli.

"I think the defense has a passionate feel for the game that is not so defined in performance,'' Cliff said. "They, last year, saw that they could win with their defense and their running game and stepped up their play."

The six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro thinks what the defense needs is, what he calls, an "igniter."


"Our igniter early in our years was really our defensive team: Bob Lilly and Lee Roy (Jordan), and Roger Staubach started because of that great defense we had,'' he said. "With that defense we had, it gave him the comforting that felt like they could win. They could win the big one."

The front office is hoping that the acquisition of controversial defensive end Greg Hardy, who was involved in a domestic-violence case against his girlfriend in 2014, the retaining of hard-luck linebacker Rolando McClain, and the return of oft-injured linebacker Sean Lee ignite something successful for the 2015 defense.

"I don't think they were a confident team before," said Harris. "That defense and that running game really helped them to develop the whole team."


The Dallas Cowboys will, as usual, open the 2015 preseason schedule out on the West Coast, starting from camp in Oxnard and then starting the game schedule with a Week 1 visit to San Diego (week of Aug. 15) and a Week 2 visit to San Francisco (week of Aug. 22).

Assuming the Cowboys stay the month in Oxnard, they will likely break camp at the end of August, in time to return to DFW for the third preseason game against the Vikings at AT&T Stadium (on the weekend of Aug. 29) -- where All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson might be on the field ... for somebody.


Amid talk of AD wanting out of Minnesota, the odds are he will be a Viking that day in a game that is usually the preseason "tune-up'' for NFL teams.

Dallas will close the preseason with a visit from inner-state rival Houston (week of Sept. 5).

The entire regular-season schedule, sources tell, is planned for a release around April 17.

Onside Kicks

These Top-10 FishTips will carry you through the week. ... The Cowboys certainly aren't hiding at least a portion of their draft intentions, with the 30-man list of national visitors reportedly including a huge chunk of the available running backs ... How do Dallas' national visits coordinate with who they eventually drafts? KD examines. ... Be sure to stay tuned to 105.3 The Fan for all your radio insights and keep it right here at CowboysHQ for hard-hitting commentary and outstanding analysis. ... Hungry for some understanding of how the Cowboys front office really operates? "Jerry and his Cornerstones'' gives you answers.

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