The fifth-year running back will make his 18thcareer start Sunday against the Panthers. DeMarco Murray is using a leg-support scooter to keep pressure off his left foot and will miss at least one game with a sprain.
Murray’s absence will cast Jones, the 22nd overall pick in 2008, into a feature role.
“I want to help out the team any way possible,” Jones said Wednesday. “If that’s carrying the load, I’m going to do it.”
Jones carried the ball a career-high 22 times for 108 yards last year against Tampa Bay after Murray fractured his right ankle the previous game.“It says again: Just be ready for the opportunity when it comes," said Jones, whose only start this season came when the Cowboys opened with two backs against the Bucs. "I’m definitely ready at all times.”
Jones, who failed the team’s conditioning test before training camp because of a shoulder injury that kept him out of the off-season, had 50 plays on offense and 20 on special teams in the first four games. With Murray out most of last week’s game at Baltimore, Jones played 49 plays on offense and five on special teams.
He had only three carries for 13 yards in the team's first four games before replacing Murray with 18 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens last week. But Jones said he stayed patient, knowing his time would come.
“It’s just trying to everyday to sell my team, sell my coaches with what I’m doing on the football field and in practice,” Jones said. “That’s all I’ve got to do is just keep showing them every day that I’m getting better and that I want it and that I want to be out there with them. That’s my job.”
Jones is in the final year of his contract and will become a free agent next off-season, so this is another chance for him to showcase his skills.
“I’m just focused on today, focused on getting ready for the Carolina Panthers," Jones said. "I can’t look too far ahead because I’ll lose focus of what’s going on right now. My focus is the Carolina Panthers. That’s what I’m focusing on.”
-- Charean Williams