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Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle is having a rough week that may be getting worse.
During the Cowboys Week 7 loss to the New York Giants, Randle, the team’s starting running back, left the game with a strained oblique, and backup Darren McFadden took over, running for a touchdown and 152 yards.
With the injury, Randle’s so-so performance through seven weeks, and McFadden’s breakout, the Cowboys reportedly demoted Randle this week.
Things got weird, however, when David Moore of The Dallas Morning News reported that Randle abruptly went missing from the team facility after learning of his demotion.
Moore said that Randle missed a treatment he was scheduled for and couldn’t be found. He later returned to get his car, but he left, and was expected to return Thursday to discuss his “multiple concerns.”
Additionally, ESPN’s Todd Archer and Adam Schefter report that Randle is likely to be suspended for an incident last February in which he was arrested for marijuana possession after police got a call about a domestic-violence incident with a gun between Randle and the mother of his son.
ESPN reports that Randle met with investigators during the summer and last week. While it’s possible he may only be fined, “more likely, he’ll be suspended, quite possibly for multiple games” for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy. Randle was also arrested for shoplifting last year.
According to Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram, the report about Randle’s reported impending suspension is the real reason he left the Cowboys facility on Wednesday, not because he was demoted.
However, while he’s facing potential discipline from the NFL, Hill reports that the Cowboys were frustrated with Randle’s departure on Wednesday, particularly because he’s dealing with an injury that needs treatment.
Randle’s status on Thursday has only made things more confusing. As The Dallas Morning News’ Brandon George reports, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Randle had an excused absence on Wednesday and that he is dealing with “personal matters.” Randle reportedly did show up to the Cowboys facility on Thursday, but he didn’t talk to Garrett. Garrett believed he would be back later, but wasn’t sure, and he also said he doesn’t expect Randle to play on Sunday because of his injury, not the personal matters.
So while we wait to see if the NFL or the Cowboys punish Randle, the Cowboys look like even more of a mess than they were entering the week.
Many people expected the Cowboys to compete for a Super Bowl this season, but instead they’ve been ravaged by injuries and personal conflicts. Dez Bryant broke his foot in Week 1, Tony Romo broke his collarbone in Week 2, backup running back Lance Dunbar tore his ACL in Week 4, and Greg Hardy has turned into a giant distraction.
Randle, expected by many to become a breakout star in DeMarco Murray’s stead, now could be out for a while. Nobody is sure how long his suspension would be, if it even happens, but between his oblique injury and this current mess, he may need some time off the field.