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OXNARD, Calif. -- It's the key to better production for Dallas Cowboys' offense.

"We have to run the ball better," said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.

On the heels of their worst 16-game rushing output ever, the Cowboys working hard to right what can only be seen as a football wrong.

The same franchise that was once home to hall-of-fame runner Tony Dorsett, and fellow hall member and NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith has gone six seasons without a 1,000-yard rusher.

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray said he takes it as a personal challenge to change that bit of history.

"Definitely, [I take it as a challenge] as a running back for this organization and knowing the history with the great backs they've had," Murray said. "We got to run the ball better; we got to play better as a team."

Murray's health is vital to a better Cowboys running game, because the next three guys on the depth chart have just 43 combined career NFL carries. Murray missed big chunks of his first two season to injuries, so he'll have to better manage his physical style of running.

So physical, in fact, it prompted Garrett to make this revelation:

"If we're all honest with ourselves," Garrett said, "I don't know that we all really, really thought he was going to be as physical a runner as he's turned out to be."

There's been plenty evidence of that in camp so far. Last week, after safety Barry Church walloped Murray on a play, there was a pad-cracking response just a few plays later.

"You definitely have to put your best foot forward everyday, or else you're going to the wrong end of the stick," Murray said. "So I have to make sure my head's on a swivel, and I'm definitely ready to bring it."

Even with the injury concerns that surround Murray, the Cowboys encourage the physicality.

"He's a big, physical guy," said running backs coach Gary Brown. "We want to try and get him going an running physically, because at the end of the day, if you can mix your physicality with your elusiveness, it's going to make him a much better player."

"His best trait as a runner is he finishes runs," Garrett said. "The great runners do that. It's just his nature, his demeanor."

Now he just needs to find a way to finish a full season.


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