Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Training Camp Preview - Part 2 - Running Backs

Heading into camp this is another position that is the deepest it has been in years. Marion Barber III, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice are all going to battle for carries but Barber and Jones will probably receive the bulk of the carries. At fullback the Cowboys have Deon Anderson returning but he will have to compete for his spot on the roster with several rookies.

Marion Barber III - Barber was reduced to a mere mortal late last season after his dislocated toe but appears to be back to 100% heading into camp. What is going to be interesting is how the Cowboys split the carries among all three running backs. Barber has always been at his best when the Cowboys are in short yardage situations and late in the 4th quarter when the Cowboys are trying to close out the game. Last season he was given the starting role and seemed to lose a little of his explosiveness as the season wore on. I'm guessing that Jason Garrett will give Felix Jones and Tashard Choice more carries earlier in the game to ensure that Barber is fresh for short yardage and 4th quarter situations. It will be hard to see what the plan is during camp but I would like to see Barber back to his old form running tough with a chip on his shoulder. The offense needs the spark he gives them when he breaks tackles and runs over defenders.

Felix Jones - It seemed as though Jason Garrett was just starting to understand how to use the talents of Felix Jones in the offense when he went down with what turned out to be a season ending hamstring tear in the Arizona game. I want to see Felix Jones running smooth on his healed hamstring and surgically repaired big toe. Those two injuries are a concern because Felix is a special player primarily due to his explosive speed and quickness. I hope to see the offense running more plays designed for Felix Jones both running the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield.

Tashard Choice - Choice was quite a nice surprise discovery late last season. He filled in nicely after both Barber and Jones were injured. I hope the Cowboys plan to give him some carries every game so that all three backs can stay healthy. In camp I don't think we'll really know how much he is going to be used during the regular season but how he does picking up blitzing defenders will probably be a major factor in how much he is on the field when the season starts.

Deon Anderson - The fullback is not used much in the offense for the Cowboys. With the plan for an increased use of the two tight end set it is going to diminish the role even more. Deon Anderson will have to win the job by not only being the superior blocker but also excelling on special teams. I think Anderson will win the job due to his knowledge of the offense but the competition is going to be good for him.

If all three running backs can stay healthy this season the Cowboys will have one of the deepest, most talented trios of running backs in the league. There is going to be more of an emphasis on protecting the ball this season which, to me, translates into an increased load for the running backs. The biggest factor in how much the running game will be utilized will be the offensive line because it is clear that all three backs are capable of making big plays if the line can do their job.


  1. Amen. Injuries will be the only thing to slow this three headed monster down. Very excited about all of these players. I think they could be the giants team from a couple of seasons ago. A few different kinds of running backs, and a dangerous passing game to go with it.

  2. Quick report from San Antonio:
    Radio sports talk already in full swing over the impending training camp at the Alamo Dome--alternating between "we'll never get a football team in S.A. if we keep letting Jerry bring training camp down here" and "it probably doesn't matter, this is more of a Cowboys town than Dallas proper."

    Also funny: the speculation that whoever wins the FOURTH AND LONG show will be mauled by fans right up until the day they get cut.