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Jason Garrett: DeMarco Murray’s recent drop in carries not related to hand injury

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Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says any drop in carries or touches by DeMarco Murray since he broke his hand during a Dec. 14 game against the Philadelphia Eagles is more a case of coincidence than concern over the injury.

“The concern was really the first week and what he was going to be able to do in that game when the contact happened,” Garrett said, via ESPN.com. “I think he proved early on he was going to be able to play and be functional in all aspects of the game. It really hasn’t been an issue for him. Any reduction in carries almost coincidence, maybe by game plan or what happens over the course of the game. He has been functional right from the start. He has played really well.”

In the three games since he suffered the injury, Murray has carried the ball 61 times for 233 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 20 rushes and 78 yards per game. While that is far below the phenomenal productivity Murray provided before the injury (25 carries, 121 yards per game in first 14 games of the season), it still demonstrates that the running back can carry the load.

Garrett specifically pointed out that even though Murray carried the ball a bit less (19 carries for 75 yards) in the team’s wild-card round victory over the Detroit Lions last week, it was more a result of the Cowboys’ productivity in the passing game.

“I thought he was outstanding in the game the other day (against Detroit) — a lot of dirty runs against a team that’s very good defending the run,” Garrett said. “I think we’ve been really balanced over this last stretch. We’ve made a lot of plays in the passing game, maybe as a result of the commitment teams have made to stop the run. We’re playing really good offensive football, and he’s a big part of it. Our ability and our commitment to run it I think has impacted us really favorably in the passing game and really made us the kind of offense that’s hard to stop.”

Murray, who said he feels “fresh,” has been wearing a hard plastic shell to protect the hand and indicated he intends to do the same on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

“I’ve worn the same thing, because it feels comfortable for me,” Murray said. “I haven’t changed anything. I’m not going to change anything now, because it’s working for me.”

Heading into Sunday’s showdown with the Packers, a superstar on each team isn’t quite 100 percent. Murray’s hand doesn’t appear to be a concern in any way, but Aaron Rodgers’ calf injury could have a significant impact on Green Bay’s ability to move the ball. If Packers running back Eddie Lacy can somehow match Murray in the ground game, it would go a long way in helping stabilize the Packers’ offense and lighten the load on Rodgers, who, even if he’s practicing, will be nowhere near top form on Sunday.

(photo credit: LM Otero/Associated Press)