DeMarco Murray Says He’s the Same Back, ‘If Not Better’

DeMarco Murray. (Jeff Fusco)

DeMarco Murray. (Jeff Fusco)

While the playing time slips, attention to DeMarco Murray‘s situation only continues to grow.

A sizable media crowd gathered around Murray’s locker stall Tuesday (he moved his availability up from Thursday because of the holiday) to ask slightly different versions of the same question that he’s been fielding for weeks: what the hell is going on?

Murray did his best to respond in kind, but in truth, that’s an answer that he’s struggling to come up with himself.

One thing the reduced role has nothing to do with, he says, is health or a decline in ability. While evidence shows that it can be tough-sledding for backs coming off 300-plus carries, and though it’s been debated whether he looks sluggish out there, Murray feels like he has not fallen off any physically.

“I do,” he said, when asked if he believes he is the same back as he was last year, “if not better. Feel a lot better.”

That 2014 campaign, though, feels worlds away.

Murray has 606 yards on 176 attempts (3.4 avg.) this season, a far cry from the 392-carry, 1,845-yard (4.7 avg.) performance that landed him the rushing title, and later, a five-year, $40 million deal ($21 million guaranteed) in free agency from the Eagles. His time on the field continues to dwindle. He’s received just 21 carries over the last three games combined, and touched the ball just two times on eight snaps in Sunday night’s loss to the Cardinals.

“I can’t control when my number is called, I can only control when I’m in there for whatever amount of time it is. I’ll continue to give my best effort for the guys in this locker room, and fight, and continue to go from there,” he said.

According to Pat Shurmur, Murray remains mentally engaged despite how the season has gone.

“He’s really good, now. When he comes in, he trains, he’s doing what he’s supposed to do. But he’s like any other guy: wants the ball every play and is disappointed when he doesn’t get it or doesn’t get it as much as he thinks he should have. We all get that,” said Shurmur. “And that a good [thing]. Trying to make a guy care, that’s harder than a guy that cares and then deal with it after. And that’s sort of where we’re at.”

Murray continues to put a positive spin on the situation publicly. “I’m blessed, man. I have an opportunity to play in the NFL and be healthy and have a beautiful wife, beautiful little girl and a boy on the way so at the end of the day, I can’t complain,” he said.

But clearly, there are frustrations. His running style has clashed with Chip Kelly‘s offense from the moment he stepped foot in it, the system hasn’t been adjusted much to accentuate his strengths and now, after a slow start, he’s essentially been relegated to third string.

“I like everything. I think you like just to be in the game,” Murray responded, when asked what type of plays best suit him. “Whether it’s inside, outside, doesn’t matter. I think opportunities are…I like opportunities.”

Just one year into the deal and a guaranteed base salary of $7 million due in 2016, there are obviously some serious discussions that need to be had this offseason on how to move forward. For his part, Murray says he does not feel the need to have (another) sitdown with the powers that be about his situation, will continue to work and hope for the best and that the focus is on Washington.

The persistent questions, though, he could do without.

“Very tired [of them]. Obviously I’ve never dealt with anything like this in my life. That’s more frustrating than anything,” he said. “But I guess this is how it is. I don’t know.”

Maxwell, Rowe update

Sounds like a race against the clock for Byron Maxwell.

Meanwhile, Eric Rowe seems optimistic about his availability for Saturday.