Making an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent might be the hardest task some rookies have faced in their entire life, but for Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar, making the most of fresh starts is a routine matter.
Dunbar and his family fled New Orleans in 2005 and settled in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the middle of his sophomore year of high school, according to Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Brent Shirley. He chose to stay close to his new home for his next step: playing for the North Texas Mean Green.
His connection to the metroplex got him in front of the Cowboys during their "Dallas Day" pro day. Current third-string running back Philip Tanner got his foot in the door at the 2011 Dallas Day, and Dunbar is on track to follow.
Shirley reports that Dunbar has drawn praise from running backs coach Skip Peete and head coach Jason Garrett while practicing with the second team.
Peete lauded Dunbar's quickness, agility, decision-making, acceleration, hands and route-running out of the backfield, as well as his ability to grasp and apply what the Cowboys are trying to do. Garrett shared Peete's complimentary feeling about Dunbar's quickness, burst and acceleration.
It's not just the Cowboys coaches who are calling out Dunbar. DallasCowboys.com writer Rob Phillips called Dunbar the best rookie in OTAs and mini camp. Dunbar's speed also caught the eye of Todd Archer from ESPNDallas on the last day of the team's mini camp.
Dunbar will likely have to push Tanner for the No. 3 running back job to make the team's opening day roster. But the Cowboys did carry four running backs into the season last year, so it's not a stretch to think that they could roster him to avoid losing the explosive back on their practice squad.
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