To Play or Not to Play?
This may be a first for DeMarco Murray – I’m going to compare the Cowboys running back to a character from Shakespeare. This week Murray may be feeling a bit like Hamlet, as in “to be or not to be?” Actually the question is not quite that deep for Murray, but he must ponder, “to play or not to play?” The decision is not exclusively his of course, the doctors will have something to say about it, but this game time decision may come down to pain management. If he can handle the pain in his hand he had surgically on Sunday without a shot, then he can play. If he can’t, he won’t. The ramifications are many.
Murray was at Valley Ranch yesterday wearing a bulky cast that extends from the left hand up to the middle of his forearm. Even though he prefers to carry the ball with his right hand, he could not play with that cast on his arm. Still, the decision is not just physical. Murray has a reputation for being injury prone and he would like nothing more than to prove that he can play through something like this and play all sixteen games this season.
There is an example being set in the Cowboys locker room by Tony Romo. He has been playing with a couple of fractures on his surgically repaired back, with a rib that is either broken or has torn cartilage and now some sort of leg injury. If the quarterback can play through all of that, then others are expected to do the same. Of course Tony takes a shot each week to mask the pain in his torso. Murray likely cannot do that because he can’t carry the ball with no feeling in his hand. He needs feeling in both his hands to fight off defenders while blocking too.
Another thing to consider is that this is Murray’s contract year. Chris Collinsworth has said on Sunday Night Football that any number of backs could do what Murray has done behind the Cowboys offensive line. I think the number Collinsworth used was 1000 (those TV guys are so prone to hyperbole). Whatever the number, Murray may not want to take that chance. If Joseph Randle comes in and rushes for 200 yards it may cheapen what Murray has done this season. It may also force the Cowboys re-think how much they are willing to offer Murray in the off season. The flip side is possible too though. If Randle gets the start and struggles, then Murray’s value would be on the rise.
Finally there’s the most important factor of all – the Cowboys need to figure out a way to run the football. This 10-4 record has been built on an offense that uses the run to set up the pass. Shakespeare had a line for that in Hamlet too, “to thine own self be true.”