'Company man' continues to run along

August, 25, 2013
8/25/13
3:15
PM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- In Glendale, Ariz., backup running back Phillip Tanner didn't play a single offensive snaps in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The Dallas Cowboys wanted to see rookie running back Joseph Randle get some snaps with the first-team and second-team offensive lines.

Tanner said he didn't mind playing just eight special teams snaps -- backup quarterback Kyle Orton played nine offensive snaps in the game -- because he was a "company man."

Saturday night, in a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, Tanner became a company man again, but in a different sort of way. After DeMarco Murray fumbled during the second possession of the game, coach Jason Garrett benched him for Tanner in the first half.

Tanner finished with 14 carries for 39 yards.

"It was the exact opposite (of last week)," Tanner said. "They came to me and said after the first drive, '34 you're going in.' Like last week, 34 you're not going in. It's football."

Tanner's status with the Cowboys was never in doubt despite the drafting of Randle in the fifth round and the emergence of Lance Dunbar as the No. 2 running back. The Cowboys view Tanner as a special teams guy for now, but his efforts in the preseason and training camp have given the team confidence it can use him in case of injury, or in this case, a benching.

"I was just trying to establish an identity every play," Tanner said. "It's all a mindset of a team that’s working hard to get up and down the field. It's just being ready. My mindset at practice is to practice as if I'm the starting running back."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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