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March 23, 2011

Felix is the man

Jason Garrett conceded that Felix Jones has become the team's go-to running back. Jones carried a team-high 185 times for 800 yards and one touchdown. His 185 carries represented 43.2 percent of the team's rushing attempts, including quarterback sneaks and scrambles. It was 39 more carries than he had in his first two seasons combined.

"I thought he did a really good job handling the workload, and that’s something that a lot of guys can grow into," Jason Garrett told reporters, including the Star-Telegram's Clarence Hill, at the NFL owners meetings in New Orleans. "We talked about how young some of these guys are coming out of college, and a guy like that continues to develop into his body and able to take the pounding and punishment of the NFL that’s required for his position. I thought he handled that well."

A lot was made of Jones' weight in training camp. He was heavier than Marion Barber, at 220 pounds, when camp opened. It was 2-4 pounds heavier than Jones had been the previous season.  

"He was a little heavier going into camp last year and a lot of guys will do that," Garrett said. "They will be a little heavier, and then they’ll kind of get themselves down into what they’re playing weight is, and I think that’s what happened with him as the year wore on. That happens. Some guys want to come into camp lighter; some guys want to come in a litter heavier whatever that case is, but as the season wore on he got back to his normal weight."

But don't expect Jones to become a "feature back," with 20-plus touches a game on a regular basis. He averaged 11.6 carries and three catches per game last season. The Cowboys will continue to use multiple running backs, Garrett said.

And for all the talk about Marion Barber being a goner, Garrett talks as if Barber is a part of the team's future. The Cowboys, though, owe Barber a $500,000 roster bonus in June. They can save $4 million against the salary cap if they cut him in June. They also could try to redo the deal.

Barber, who turns 28 in June, had a career-low 374 yards last season, with a career-low 3.3 yards per carry and a career-low four touchdowns. Those numbers aren't worth the $6.75 million salary-cap number Barber is due.

"We need to be better as a football team," Garrett said. "We need to run the ball better. He’s the runner, and he’s the guy that has the statistics behind it. We need to run it better, just like we need to throw it better, and a lot of times the individual players will have statistics that go with them that reflects how well or how poorly we’re doing in a particular area. Marion can get better as a football player, there’s no question about that. But we can get better as a team."

-- Charean Williams



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