Cowboys Linehan Talks; McFadden To PUP
Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan visits with our guys "Shan & RJ'' on 105.3 The Fan for a look at the key questions for his offense as camp opens ... a conversation that occured before the McFadden revelation but still may say volumes about how "minor'' the hamstring problem might be. ...
FIRST, McFADDEN: Darren McFadden hit a "speed bump'' as he sustained a hamstring injury during pre-camp workouts, marking a continuation of what has plagued him during his career as a former Raiders first-round pick and playing him on the PUP list to start camp.
"I'm doing fine," McFadden told us. "It's just a little setback. I've got to get it right."
Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said the PUP designation (which can change at any time, Dallas believing this might be a week-long injury) should not register as a surprise. But it's a setback for a team planning to replace the departed DeMarco Murray with a Joe Randle-led collection of backs that, at its best will include McFadden.
The Cowboys say they have no plans to sign another runner in his place. Instead, they'll endure what they hope is nothing more than a speed bump. And Linehan? As you see below, he seems un-phased ...
HOW WORRIED SHOULD FANS BE ABOUT RUN GAME DUPLICATION? -- Well, I don't think they should be worried. We're going to miss DeMarco. He's a great player, but we are going to replace him with some really potentially great players and performances with the guys we got. You know, Joseph Randle and Lance [Dunbar] and the addition of D-Mac. We got three guys that I think are going to be the guys that can get it done.
WERE YOU AWARE OF YOUR REPUTATION? -- No, I'm aware of that one. We threw it quite a bit in Detroit, but that was kind of by design. That was kind of how we were built. So, we got a different kind of setup here. And we're in a pretty good position to do that. Everybody really wants to be able to run the football, but not everybody truly can. And I think we truly can.
DID YOU PLAN TO RUN THE BALL GOING INTO THE SEASON? -- That was by design. We talked about it extensively, Jason [Garrett] and I did. That was what we wanted to do, kind of get back to a little bit of the old school, the old Cowboys. And Jason saw it first hand, front row and center. And the key to is it's got to succeed. You say you're going to do it, but when you're a little run heavy especially on first down, you got to be seeing those four or five yard runs. And we were able to do that. Again, DeMarco had a lot to do with that. I think we obviously had a tremendous offensive line and tight end group, just a real support group around him. It will be a really fun challenge for us to duplicate that probably maybe a little bit different way, but certainly be part of the plan.
GETTING AWAY FROM THE RUN -- Absolutely. I think we're all guilty of that. I don't think you really see the run success too often early in games. You've got to have really a demeanor about yourself running the football. You've got to be conscious that they're going to be loading the box and doing those kinds of things and playing with a lot of energy early. And there might be some two, three-yard runs that don't look so great, but you can't look at those as negative plays. If you're expecting five, six yards every time you run the football in the NFL, you're crazy. So, I think what it is it's going to happen over four quarters, and if you stick with it, and we were able to do that for the most part last year, I think those are the teams that run the ball the best.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THE OL WAS GOOD? -- Well, it was a year ago before we even added Zack [Martin]. We had some really good players when I got here. That was a big part of our success offensively was that group. But it's been built that way through the draft. There's about three, four, five-year period of time where you keep adding these quality players to the offensive line, and it's a great way to build your football team, especially offensively.
WHAT DO YOU SEE IN RANDLE & MCFADDEN? -- Well, Joe's a really talented kid. He really has a lot of great instincts as far as running and has a pace and patience to his game. He knows when to put his foot in the ground and hit it and go and really kind of sets up his blocks really well. I think that's the best things he does. I think he plays bigger than his actual size. He's not a small guy, but he has got a lot of that big back demeanor in the way he ways. And he kind of has a sneaky burst to get the explosive run. Know a little bit less about Darren. We've been in shorts. He's awesome. He's a true pro. He's got homerun speed. It's hard to tell. You're really not cutting it loose 100 percent, but you can kind of see it. And he's the kind of guy that could break into the open field and be gone. I think that having those kinds of complementary type players. I didn't mention Lance [Dunbar], but Lance has a pretty huge role for us too. So, I think between the three of these guys, we're going to have a really solid group.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE TOUCHES DISTRIBUTION -- I think there are some games they go more, some games they go less. I think it's going to kind of depend. Game plan sometimes has something to do with that. I think we have more personnel groupings where we're playing other backs. I think it'll be pretty common for us to put two or three guys in even in one series. So, I think that's what we'd like to do. You'd like to leave guys in, kind of see if a guy gets hot leave him in. That type of deal. But I think each game is going to be a little bit different. We're not going to put any kind of number or anything like that with guys. I think that will happen naturally. It was a little bit differently last year. We rode DeMarco, and he was able to handle it. It was a little bit less towards the end of the year he started to get a little bit beat up, kind of soreness and that kind of stuff. So, we toned it back a little bit, but he was able to handle that. But that was a little bit uncommon, so I think we'll just get it out of two or three guys right now.
WHY DOES IT SEEM LIKE ROMO IS UN-AGING? -- I don't think that's uncommon for those guys. Quarterbacks don't really peak or a lot of times they get to this point in their careers, they do play better. We've seen some great examples across the league of guys play good that are in that mid-thirties range or even older. So, he works really hard. He's a true professional. I think (Tony Romo) uses all his experience to his advantage. He's doing a really good job managing his age right now. He had to go through two off-seasons with back surgeries. First year he hasn't had to do that. So, he's had to deal with a lot of stuff while he's getting himself ready to play football games, and he's a really smart guy; plays really smart football. And I think that's probably the reason why you see the guy improve as he ages.
HOW DO YOU WORK IN LA'EL COLLINS? -- I don't want to call it a luxury, but it's nice for a young guy like that who's got this great talent to not have to have huge expectations to go in and play right away. I don't know what's going to happen. Training camp is going to tell a lot about all of our positions on our football team. But in this case, he's going to get plenty of opportunity to work with the group, see where he's at. We have five starters on our offensive line that are returning that are going to have something to say about that. They're not going to want to let this young guy go in there and just right away get in there spots. It's going to be great competition, but I think the thing we have going for us is we don't have to have him be in there right away, throw him right in the fire if we don't have to. And if he's ready, he's ready. If he's not, he's not. We'll let the competition play its way out.''
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