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Renegades Training Camp: Day 14

Dallas running back Cameron Artis-Payne finds a crease against Los Angeles last Saturday.

HOUSTON -- Perhaps no position battle in Renegades training camp has been as hotly contested as the one at running back.

Coaches have acknowledged that the dropoff from one player to the next is hard to gauge, and with just a few days left until the team makes final cuts, the play on the field is as lively as ever.

"They’re making it hard on me every day. I go to sleep thinking that if I lose any of these guys, I’ll be heartbroken," Dallas running backs coach Bobby Blizzard said. "Still, to this day and this moment, if it came down to cuts, I still wouldn’t know who to pick. I would need the whole staff to bounce ideas off them and see what they think of each kid."

Here are the five players fighting to make the roster, followed by Blizzard's assessment of each of them:

Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn

"Cam is a downhill runner, has good vision and can make cuts and make people miss downfield."

Marquis Young, UMass

"Marquis can catch out of the backfield and is also a downhill runner. He’s fast, and like Cam, he’s my power guy."

Lance Dunbar, North Texas

"Lance has those tools, but he’s excellent catching the ball out of the backfield, catching the screen game, the underneath game. He’s just excellent with the ball in his hands in open space." 

Austin Walter, Rice

"Austin is a lot like Lance. He’s great in the backfield, and you can line him up all over the field. He doesn’t drop anything."

Darnell Holland, Kennesaw State

"Darnell is the rawest out of the group because he comes from a Wing-T offense both in college and high school. So he’s catching on late, but he’s got excellent talent catching the ball out of the backfield, he can run downhill, and he’s physical."

"That’s what I love about all of [the running backs]. They don’t look that big, but they’ll come and smack you."

Renegades running backs coach Bobby Blizzard

The dilemma with which the Dallas staff is now faced is of course the product of sound draft planning and execution.

Each player fits the mold of what the entire staff wanted for offensive coordinator Hal Mumme's Air Raid system. Every day, every repetition, the staff acknowledges that each of the five players has looked the part.

But there may not be room for all of them. 

"Everybody’s pretty much a dual threat -- that was the one thing we wanted going into this season," Blizzard said. "I played in this offense and I’ve been a coordinator in this offense for five years out of my eight year career, so I knew what we needed. These guys caught onto the offense very well. They picked up all the small details. It's going to be a tough call."

Uneventful joint practice with St. Louis 

Dallas traveled over to W. W. Thorne Stadium on Saturday for a joint practice with their Week 1 opponent, and it was about as uneventful as the coaches could have hoped.

This was a tame affair, with both teams limiting contact and offering very few looks on each side of the ball.

With a few players nursing some small injuries, the Renegades will take most of Sunday off.

Final Scrimmage on Monday

The Renegades will meet St. Louis again on Monday at TDECU Stadium at 3:30 p.m.

Unlike Wednesday's scrimmage against Los Angeles, it will include four quarters of game simulation, and both teams will be in game uniforms, as opposed to practice gear.

After that, the staff will work on final cuts before the team returns to Dallas to prepare for the Feb. 9 opener against the BattleHawks (4 p.m. CT) at Globe Life Park in Arlington.