Lance Dunbar had one last chance against the Miami Dolphins to show the Cowboys what they had and to see if he can make a case for sticking on the roster. Although he will found out his fate soon enough, the undrafted youngster has now presented the team with a problem.
In fact, I think it's a good one to have.
Dunbar finished the contest with 105 yards and a touchdown while carrying the ball 15 times. For Dunbar, It was his first and only real chance since being healthy to show off his speed and make a statement in both the return game and the running game.
And he did just that. He reminded you of what Felix Jones should look like when he enters the game.
Dunbar missed most of training camp and the first two preseason games due to a hamstring injury. But he played with a great deal of confidence in a game where he knew it was a big deal and centered around a lot of crucial decisions concerning the roster. The fact that he performed well in that type of environment, with that backdrop to the story, might be an indicator of his mental makeup.
To see him cut back around the offensive line, make multiple Miami defenders miss and then break off an electrifying 58-yard run allows you to envision a potential role in the offense for him. By having him on the roster along with Tanner, the Cowboys could be indirectly setting up their running back rotation for the future with the imminent departure of Felix Jones.
For right now, he gives the Cowboys brass something major to consider when trimming down the roster. Could the Cowboys be in a position to keep four running backs? At the expense of what position? Ultimately, Dunbar could be a victim of the numbers game, but I can't envision a scenario where he sneaks through waivers and onto the practice squad.
Phillip Tanner held up his end of the bargain in the preseason finale with 48 yards rushing and a touchdown. He displayed his true form, and it would appear on the surface that he has a grasp on the third running back spot. Tanner is also a valuable special-teams performer, and he excels in pass protection.
Jamize Olawale, another pleasant surprise from training camp, rushed for 53 yards against the Dolphins, but probably aligned himself more as a practice squad candidate. He has a little versatility to his game as well by being able to play fullback.
The situation at running back needs to become clear very shortly. What remains unclear is if Dunbar actually outperformed Tanner enough to supplant him as the third running back. The Cowboys are now presented with a lot of options at the position that give them different skill-sets, versatility, talent and depth.
The ultimate decision surrounding the running back dilemma will now focus on finding a solution to the problem caused by Dunbar. A problem that should be portrayed as a good one.