During Monday's practice, yet another Dallas Cowboys running back missed practice when Joseph Randle sat out with an oblique injury. With Darren McFadden Lance Dunbar on the shelf, it was undrafted free agent back Gus Johnson who got the call over 2014 draft pick Lache Seastrunk. In his first real opportunity with the first team offense, Johnson shined.
Johnson looked good throughout practice, and he stood out specifically during the team's goal-line drills. At 5-foot-10 and 215 pounds, Johnson has an ideal build for short-yardage situations. His build is also unique to the rest of the Cowboys' depth chart at running back.
"Gus did a good job yesterday. We had a short yardage and goal line," Romo said on KTCK-AM 1310 via the Dallas Morning News. "It's hard because you don't have live so you don't have the chance to show your ability to break a tackle, maybe get through a gap with a thud, not being a thud, it's not a tackle. I just think he showed a little bit when we were live yesterday in some of the shortage. He's got a chance."
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Johnson was the 2014 Southland Conference Player of the Year after rushing for 1,683 yards and 23 touchdowns on 256 carries. Over the course of his collegiate career, Johnson averaged 6.2 yards per carry and finished with 51 rushing touchdowns and 3,892 rushing yards.
He ran a 4.62 and 4.62 40-yard dash at his pro day, and these aren't exceptional numbers, but he showed up his athleticism at the NFL Combine. His 36.5-inch vertical and 10-foot broad jump are impressive numbers for any running back, especially one of his build. Johnson also put on paper a 7.09-second, three-cone drill. The big man has good lateral agility and nimble feet for his build.
During Tuesday's practice, Johnson took the majority of first team snaps in team drills, and Randle participated only in individual drills on the side. He has moved ahead of Seastrunk for the time being. With Randle questionable for Thursday's preseason opener, the expectation is that Johnson will get an opportunity to be the Cowboys' starter.
Johnson brings something to the Cowboys' backfield that they don't currently have on the roster. If he can prove to be the best option in short yardage and goal-line situations, we can expect him to carve out a role even when Randle proves to be 100 percent healthy. Keep an eye on Johnson as training camp and the preseason roll on.