Eagles' DeMarco Murray set to face former Cowboys teammates

ByROB MAADDI AP Pro Football Writer via AP logo
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Philadelphia Eagles' DeMarco Murray walks the field before a preseason NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA -- DeMarco Murray insists playing the Dallas Cowboys is just another game.

Nobody in Philadelphia agrees with him.

Murray will face his former team for the first time Sunday when the Cowboys (1-0) visit the Eagles (0-1) in a matchup of NFC East rivals. While fans in Philly always get overhyped for the Cowboys, Murray downplayed it.

"I'm approaching it like any other game," Murray said. "I'm not looking at it as facing the Cowboys. I'm just going through my normal routine, my normal preparation and not trying to do anything extra to worry about anything I don't have to worry about."

Really, DeMarco?

"That's just how I've always been," he said. "I don't get too high or waste a lot of energy on talking and worrying about things I can't control."

But you'll be happy when it's over, right?

"I'm not paying attention to what's being said on the outside," Murray said. "It's in the past. I'm over it."

OK, we believe you.

Emotions aside, Murray has to perform better than he did in his debut to give the Eagles a chance to win. The reigning NFL rushing champion scored two touchdowns, but only had 9 yards rushing on eight carries in a 26-24 loss at Atlanta on Monday night. Ryan Mathews had 4 yards rushing.

"We just have to be better in the run game point-blank," Murray said.

Murray's replacement in Dallas fared much better in a 27-26 win over the New York Giants on Sunday night. Joseph Randle had 65 yards rushing on 16 carries. Darren McFadden chipped in with 16 yards on six carries.

"DeMarco was a really good football player for our team. He's a great young man. He's a great person," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "But he plays for another team now and we're focused on ourselves and getting ready for this game."

Even though it's Week 2, it's an important game for the two teams expected to battle for the division crown. The Eagles beat the Cowboys in Dallas in Week 17 to win the East in 2013. But the Cowboys returned the favor last year with a win in Philadelphia in December to take the division title away.

Here's some things to know about the Cowboys-Eagles game:

TONY TERRIFIC: Since a loss to the Eagles last Thanksgiving, Tony Romo has posted a passer rating over 100 in seven straight games, including two in the playoffs. He has 1,827 yards passing, 19 TDs and three interceptions while leading the Cowboys to a 6-1 record in those games. "One of the best quarterbacks in the league running the show," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said.

MAXWELL'S HOUSE: Cornerback Byron Maxwell plays his first home game since signing a $63 million contract with the Eagles. He struggled against Atlanta's Julio Jones and Roddy White in the opener, allowing 10 catches for 179 yards. "I didn't play up to par," Maxwell said. "It's over now. The more I hang on it, the more I can't get prepared for Dallas."

DEZ-LESS DALLAS: All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant misses his first game since surgery on his right foot. He had six catches for 114 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-27 win in Philadelphia last December. Bryant has 44 catches for 671 yards and seven TDs in eight career games vs. the Eagles. "It's not going to be the same level as when Dez was out there, but it doesn't mean we can't go out and complete balls and move the ball," Romo said.

WHERE'S THE RUSH?: The Eagles were second in the NFL with 49 sacks last year, but had only one against Atlanta's makeshift offensive line. The Falcons neutralized the rush by using maximum protection often and play-action fake passes. "I don't think the pass rush was where it needed to be," Kelly said.

KICKING GAME: The Cowboys have an edge if it comes down to a field goal. Philadelphia's Cody Parkey went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but he missed a 44-yarder that would've put the Eagles ahead late in Monday's loss. He has missed six field goals and one extra point in the last seven games, dating to last season and including the preseason. Meanwhile, Dan Bailey has never missed a kick vs. Philadelphia. He's made 21 extra points and eight field goals.