IRVING, Texas (AP) — Darren McFadden fractured his right elbow trying to keep his new iPhone from hitting the ground and cracking.
The Dallas running back is likely to miss the start of training camp as a result, and fourth overall pick Ezekiel Elliott is that much closer to starting.
McFadden’s injury happened at home over Memorial Day weekend, and he missed the next voluntary practice that was open to reporters. But he returned to workouts last week, eventually telling trainers that the elbow was still bothering him.
The fracture showed up on X-rays as part of the physical before mandatory minicamp that started Tuesday, the same day of surgery for the Cowboys’ leading rusher in 2015.
Coach Jason Garrett said McFadden would miss “at least a couple of months,” and training camp in California starts in late July. The Cowboys hope to have him ready for the season opener.
“He’s real tough,” said running backs coach Gary Brown, who said McFadden fell and saved his phone while breaking his elbow.
“He didn’t want to miss any time. He understands what’s going on and how this business works and you really got to appreciate that about him because I know I do.”
McFadden finished fourth in the NFL last season with 1,089 yards rushing despite not taking over as the lead back until the seventh game during a 4-12 season. But the Cowboys still decided to take Elliott, the former Ohio State star, with their highest draft pick in 25 years.
“It just means more reps with the first team, but you hate seeing one of your guys go down,” said Elliott, who had been splitting time on the first team with McFadden. “You hate to see one of your warriors wounded.
But he’s going to be around a lot.”
Dallas also signed free agent Alfred Morris, who went to the Pro Bowl twice in Washington. And versatile back Lance Dunbar is expected to be fully recovered from last year’s major knee injury at some point in 2016.
“You want to be deep at all positions,” Garrett said. “It’s hard to do that in the NFL in this day and age with the salary caps and the like, but it’s good to have quality football players at that spot with this injury.”
McFadden gave the running game stability last season after the Cowboys let 2014 NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray get away in free agency while also thinking backup Joseph Randle could take over as the starter.
Coming off seven mostly disappointing and injury-filled seasons in Oakland after the Raiders drafted him fourth overall in 2008, McFadden rushed for 152 yards after Randle got hurt early in a game at the New York Giants. Randle was waived two weeks later.
The ninth-year player is also seen as a mentor for Elliott, in part because he faced the same expectations as a high pick in Oakland.
“It’s our leader in the room,” Brown said. “It’s going to be hard for these young guys. We’ve got to figure out what we need to get done because that’s the way he’d want us to do. We can’t wallow in it.”
NOTES: LB Rolando McClain and G Ron Leary reported for the first mandatory practice of the offseason after skipping all the voluntary workouts. Owner Jerry Jones has said McClain was spending time with his two young sons in Alabama, and Leary wants a trade after losing his starting job to second-year player La’el Collins. ... DE Benson Mayowa was scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday. Garrett said he should be ready by “close to the start of training camp.”