The Indianapolis Colts face the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday, but this week’s opponent might be without their offensive centerpiece. Running back DeMarco Murray reportedly had surgery on his left hand Monday afternoon.
As first reported by ESPN, Murray broke the fourth metacarpal in his left hand in the Cowboys Sunday Night win over the Philadelphia Eagles. He had x-rays after the game but said he was “OK.” Further examination revealed the break this morning.
The fourth metacarpal connects the wrist to the base of the ring finger. Any break in a bone on the hand will certainly hurt, but this won’t have a dramatic impact on function and grip.
The Cowboys caught a bit of a break (no pun intended) in that Murray prefers to carry the ball with his right hand.
Where this could have the biggest impact is with a stiff arm move and in pass blocking, where you need to utilize both hands to stave off defenders.
Murray has accounted for 38-percent of the Cowboys yards from scrimmage, the most in the NFL. He has already set career highs in carries at 351 and yards with 1,687.
Murray has a chance to break Emmitt Smith‘s single-season franchise record of 1,1773 rushing yards, which he set back in 1995. Murray has averaged over 120 yards rushing per game and has 11 games with over 100 yards.
Football Outsiders has Murray as their highest rated running back in the league, ranking first in total value (DYAR) and third in value per play (DVOA). Pro Football Focus has Murray as their fifth graded running back with a +13.4 overall.
If Murray doesn’t play on Sunday, it would obviously be a huge break for the Colts. The Cowboys success this season has been predicated on Murray’s outstanding play.
He’s not only been their best offensive player, but he’s also been their best defensive player as the Cowboys have been able to possess the ball for longer stretches. That not only keeps opponents offenses on the sideline but all keeps the Dallas defense fresh.
Without Murray, the Cowboys become one dimensional and will have to lean heavily on Tony Romo. While Romo isn’t a bad QB by any means, he has been mistake prone at times and isn’t completely healthy having dealt with a number of back injuries this season.
The Colts haven’t been awful against the run this season, but they have struggled at times (read: vs New England). Football Outsiders ranks the Colts as 27th versus the run while traditional stats have them giving up 110 yards per game (15th in the NFL). They even managed to hold Arian Foster under 100 yards on Sunday and just 3.8 yards per carry (and 3.3 overall against the Texans).
We’ll have more on the status of Murray as the week progresses.