When the Cowboys refused to re-sign DeMarco Murray they gave up a running back who carried the ball 392 times for more than 1,800 yards and 13 touchdowns. Where do all those carries go? The Cowboys oddly didn’t draft a running back this year and will instead turn to backup Joseph Randle, the oft-injured Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar.
When he’s been given a real opportunity, Randle has done little. He had double-digit carries just once last season, and in that game carried the ball 13 times for only 37 yards. McFadden actually played in all 16 games last season but still only managed 534 yards and two touchdowns. How good Randle and McFadden look battling for the starting job in training camp will go a long way in developing the perception of the Cowboys this season, especially if one emerges as the clear starter.
What to watch: Derek Carr showed plenty of promise as a rookie and now he has a brand-new set of toys to work with in the passing game. In free agency, the team added Michael Crabtree, and then selected Amari Cooper and Clive Walford in the first two rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft. Carr’s ability to jell with his new weapons in the passing game will be a big key for the Raiders’ offense.
Alexander redshirted the 2013 season due to a muscle injury that never quite healed right. The coaching staff decided to let him heal rather than risk further injury. Last year, Alexander stepped into the starting CB role and absolutely dominated. He became the No. 1 CB on the best defense in the country, in large part because of his work. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables often asked Alexander to defend the opposing team’s best player on an island, and he succeeded.
Really Alexander’s only big mistake came against Florida State. The redshirt freshman had managed to shut down Rashad Greene for most of the night until he slipped, leading to a 74-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. The rest of the year he was dominant enough that many opposing teams tried to throw away from him.