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Jones: Joseph Randle has potential to be 'No. 1 back'

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We've spent all summer debating who will wind up winning the starting running back role in Dallas. Did Jerry Jones answer the question on Wednesday?

Four months after Jones raved over Darren McFadden as still possessing the "kinds of skills that got him drafted with the fourth pick," the Cowboys owner and general manager spent Wednesday praising McFadden's competition, Joseph Randle.

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"We have a player (in Randle) that has the potential -- and we based that on, not on what he did at Oklahoma State or how we drafted him, but by literally being a teammate around here for the last two years -- but he has the potential to be the kind of back that would step in there and be your No. 1 back," Jones told reporters. "If he were not here, then I wouldn't feel as good as we go into the season and what might happen."

Jones was less effusive in his praise of McFadden, saying that the 27-year-old "does have the potential, too, with the right numbers of carries and the right opportunity," noting that the combination of Randle and McFadden "to some degree, that's the kind of back -- if you add those two together -- we had in (DeMarco) Murray."

With Jones also praising change-of-pace man Lance Dunbar as a fourth-year runner who "needs to touch the ball more," it's clear we're in for a committee-based approach come September. Still, Wednesday marked a tonal shift from May, when Jones fawned over McFadden for being "in the best shape of his career."

In that same interview, though, the Cowboys owner acknowledged that Dallas "may end up being more efficient and more explosive" behind a group-based approach over "putting so much pressure on one back." Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan echoed that in June, calling this year's depth chart a "complementary backfield" that will "spread out the carries."

Everyone has an opinion on the Dallas runners, but the best news is this: The wait is over. We're closer than ever to real games and on-field evidence telling us whether Randle, McFadden and Dunbar can hold a candle to last year's Offensive Player of the Year.

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