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Cowboys RB Murray practicing, but will he play?

Cowboys RB Murray practicing, but will he play?

IRVING, Texas (AP) Dallas running back DeMarco Murray is finally practicing again.

It's unknown if he'll play Sunday night against Philadelphia, and whether his six-game absence is what ails the Cowboys' running game.

Murray was a limited participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday in what coach Jason Garrett said was the most football work the second-year pro has done since spraining his right foot against Baltimore on Oct. 14.

Murray declined interviews after both practices, but did acknowledge a ``good first day'' in a playful exchange with reporters Wednesday.

``If he's ready to go, it will be a boost,'' quarterback Tony Romo said. ``If not, some guys will have to continue to step up.''

The question is whether it's a coincidence the Cowboys have rushed for more than 100 yards just once - and only 101 at that - in six games without Murray, who had a franchise-record 253 yards in his first start as a rookie last season and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

This year, he had three straight games with a per-carry average under 4 yards before getting 90 and injuring his foot in the first half against the Ravens. He had one 3-yard carry after halftime before going to the sideline for good, and the Cowboys have been on a steady slide to last in the league in rushing ever since.

``I'm hopeful,'' offensive line coach Bill Callahan said. ``When he comes back, we'll see how he feels and see where it all is.''

Felix Jones has seen most of the work in Murray's absence, but he's been slowed by injuries to both knees. While he had 71 yards and another 22 yards receiving with a touchdown in the team's only 100-yard rushing game since Murray's injury, Jones is averaging a career-low 3.6 yards per carry.

There was a chance undrafted rookie Lance Dunbar would start last week against Washington, but Jones managed to stay in the lineup. It didn't matter much after the Cowboys fell behind 28-3 in the first half and had just two rushing attempts in the second half. Jones finished with 14 yards on six carries.

Jones missed practice when Murray returned Wednesday, but he was back on the field as a limited participant Thursday.

``He's done a really good job of fighting through a couple of the injuries,'' Garrett said. ``Knowing the situation at running back with DeMarco being out for a little while, he's just kind of stepped up and gotten himself ready to play in the ballgames.''

The possible return of Murray could also get a boost from a healthier offensive line. Phil Costa, the starting center, remains out with an ankle injury, but Ryan Cook is practicing again after a knee injury forced Mackenzy Bernadeau to slide over from guard the past two games. Left tackle Tyron Smith is closer to a return after spraining an ankle early in the loss to Cleveland on Nov. 18.

``The continuity helps a lot. At the same time, no excuses,'' Bernadeau said. ``We're taught the technique and we take the responsibility of being able to know our jobs and assignments and being able to block consistently and improve. And that's something we haven't done yet.''

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

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Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Moses, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.