The news that DeMarco Murray would be out for Sunday's contest at Carolina wasn't entirely unexpected.
Murray went down with a foot injury in Dallas' 31-29 loss to Baltimore on Sunday, and an ensuing MRI revealed ligament damage but no broken bones, according to The Dallas Morning News' Brandon George.
George also reports that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has already confirmed that Murray will be out for Sunday's game at Carolina, via KRLD-FM 105.3. Jerry Jones said Murray will be evaluated week to week from here on out, but judging from his comments, it doesn't seem likely that the running back is going to miss substantial time.
Jerry Jones said on his weekly radio show, via George:
I think we were encouraged that his sprain was not any more serious than it is. He’s a tough guy. I regret that we’re not going to have him against Carolina, which looks obvious. I’m encouraged that we’re going to have him as we move along.
And in the meantime, Dallas will look to Felix Jones to come up big for a team that desperately needs to rebound from two consecutive losses. But is he worth starting in Week 7 at Carolina?
In Week 6 against the Ravens—owners of the league's 28th-ranked rush defense—Jones picked up 92 yards on the ground and a touchdown on 18 carries. It was his first-quarter score that gave the Cowboys their first lead of the game.
Though he seemed to establish last weekend he could answer the Cowboys' call in Murray's absence, it's important to consider a couple of factors: One, that the Ravens are not good against the run, and two, that Jones' production this year prior to Week 6 has been minimal. As in, throughout the first four weeks of the season, he had just one game in which he finished with more than one rushing yard.
Carolina's rush defense is OK—not great, not awful, and better than Baltimore's. The Panthers allow 127.4 rushing yards per game, good for No. 23 in the league.
In Week 5, the Panthers' last game before the bye, they endured 16-12 loss to the Seahawks in which they allowed just 98 yards on the ground. Marshawn Lynch got 85 of them, averaging 4.0 yards per carry.
With Murray out, we can certainly expect Jones to get more carries, but whether he'll be successful is another story. The Panthers are OK against the run (or at least better than the Ravens), and regardless of how good-ish Jones looked last week against Baltimore, this Sunday will present an entirely new challenge. He'll be the No. 1 guy—for the entire 60 minutes—and he'll have to play like it.
Though last week's performance was a good sign for Jones, and for Dallas' rushing attack, it doesn't mean that Jones is going to repeat it in Week 7. The matchup favored the Cowboys last week, and this week, it could go either way.
Even with the extra carries, expecting Jones to carry the offense against the Panthers will probably be too much to ask. Unfortunately, though, fantasy owners who will be without Murray may not have any other choice.
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