ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — DeMarco Murray can’t remember much about the last two times he played against the Rams, but the Rams defenders can’t forget about the times they’ve played Murray.
“Honestly, I can’t remember,” Murray said this week in a conference call with reporters. “I don’t look at those games because there’s a lot of new guys on the team. A similar defense, but I’m not looking at those games. I know they’re a lot better than what they’ve been. I really don’t pay attention to those games too much.”
The Rams defense can’t forget those games if they want to have any chance of stopping the Cowboys running back on Sunday. And if they can’t slow down Murray, they’ll likely find themselves with another loss going into their bye week.
Murray has already handed the Rams a pair of losses with two big performances.
The University of Oklahoma product was a rookie in 2011 when he rushed for a team-record 253 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Then, last season, Murray rushed 26 times for 175 yards and a touchdown and added three catches for another 28 yards.
So in two games against the Rams, the running back racked up 456 total yards and two scores and Dallas earned two wins.
Yeah, the Rams will be paying close attention to him on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. They are well aware of what he has done against them.
“It hurts your pride a lot that he’s gotten so many yards on defenses you’ve been a part of,” Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “Seeing what he’s done so far this year as well, you’re talking about the respect you have for him. He’s done a phenomenal job. He runs hard and they have a good scheme. I think this team now knows what to expect from their scheme and from their personnel. We’ve been challenged by our coaching staff.”
Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers said they will be focusing in on No. 29.
“He’s had some big games,” Brockers said. “I think he’s maybe the leading rusher right now. So we’re definitely keying in on him and trying to stop him this week.”
Murray does lead the NFL in rushing yardage so far this season, with 285 yards in two games for the Cowboys (1-1). He’s averaging 25.5 carries and 142.5 yards per contest.
The Rams have struggled to slow down opponents’ rushing attacks so far this season. They rank 29th out of 32 teams in opponent rushing yards allowed, having given up an average of 171 yards per game.
Minnesota got them for 185 yards rushing in the season opener. St. Louis was able to limit Adrian Peterson to 75 yards on 21 carries, but wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson gashed the Rams for 102 yards on just three attempts.
Tampa Bay gained 157 yards on the ground last week. Bobby Rainey, filling in for starter Doug Martin, gained 144 yards on 22 attempts, an average of 6.5 yards per carry.
So the Rams will have to be significantly better with their run defense on Sunday if they are going to slow down Murray and the Cowboys.
“Well, I think it will be more of a challenge this year,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher told reporters Thursday. “I think their offensive line is experienced. They’re playing really well together. We had some run fit issues that we have to take care of. We’ve had some matchup problems that we didn’t handle. So, we’ve had plenty of time. Obviously we’ve looked at some things through the offseason. Still as I mentioned yesterday, they rushed for 118 yards against the 49ers and that’s hard to do. So, we’re going to have be in the right place and guys are going to have to make plays.”
Nate Latsch has been covering sports in St. Louis for more than a decade, working for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports, STLhighschoolsports.com, Scout.com and other newspapers and websites. You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch, email him at email@example.com and read more of his Rams coverage at GridironGateway.com.
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