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Cowboys’ back Murray breaks left hand, needs surgery

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IRVING, Texas » NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray has a broken left hand in what could be a damaging blow to the playoff hopes of the Dallas Cowboys.

Murray was set for surgery Monday and might be sidelined Sunday at home against Indianapolis, already a playoff qualifier. Even though the Cowboys just beat Philadelphia to take the NFC East lead, they might have to win both of their remaining games to end a four-year postseason drought.

If the Eagles beat division also-rans Washington and the New York Giants in their final two games, Dallas (10-4) could be knocked out by a loss to the Colts even with a win against the Redskins in the regular-season finale.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on his radio show Monday that it was "probably a tough expectation" that Murray would play against Indianapolis (10-4), though he wouldn’t rule it out. Neither would coach Jason Garrett.

"The biggest question we have to ask ourselves is, is he functional to do his job," Garrett said. "Can he hold the football, can he carry it under duress, can he block, can he do the things necessary to play the position. He’s as strong-willed and determined an individual as I’ve ever been around. If anybody has a chance to come back, he does."

Murray has 1,687 yards rushing and needs 87 yards to break all-time NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith’s franchise record of 1,773 yards. The fourth-year back is 409 yards ahead of Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell in the race for the rushing title.

Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle split carries as Murray’s backup in Sunday’s 38-27 win over Philadelphia. Murray was injured near the end of the game. Television footage showed him leaving the field while wincing in pain.

Bucs DT McCoy done for season with knee injury

TAMPA, Fla. » A bad season got a little more miserable for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday.

Two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will finish the year on injured reserve, missing the Buccaneers’ final two games because of a sprained right knee.

"Of course you want to finish the games with your guys, but you have to look at the bigger picture, and that’s my overall health," the fifth-year pro said after walking into a mostly empty locker room and motioning for reporters to follow him to a stall on the back wall.

"I think we have a lot of great — not good, great — ahead of us for this team, this organization," McCoy added.

Locker on injured reserve, Titans bring in Palmer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. » Jake Locker’s season is over and now that the Titans have placed him on injured reserve with an injured left shoulder, it’s likely so is his time in Tennessee.

Locker dislocated his non-throwing shoulder when hit by Jets defensive end Quinton Coples late in the first half of a 16-11 loss Sunday. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Locker wanted to see if he could get range of motion back in his shoulder hoping to play again with two games left.

But an MRI exam Monday showed Locker needs surgery Tuesday because his shoulder had popped completely out of the socket.

The Titans agreed to terms with Jordan Palmer, giving themselves a healthy quarterback to back up Charlie Whitehurst, who will start in Jacksonville on Thursday night. The 6-foot-5 Palmer has played five seasons with Washington, Cincinnati, Jacksonville Chicago and Buffalo. He was with the Bears last season before being waived after training camp this year.

Jon Gruden agrees to extension with ESPN

CHICAGO » Jon Gruden has agreed to a contract extension with ESPN through the 2021 NFL season.

Frequently mentioned for vacant NFL and college coaching openings, the Super Bowl-winning coach joined ESPN in May 2009 as an analyst.

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