IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys coach Wade Phillips wouldn't say it, but the reality is backup running back Felix Jones will miss Sunday's game at Denver with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, according to multiple sources.
Phillips said he's had players come back quickly from a sprained PCL in the past but doesn't know when Jones would return.
Jones will be evaluated this week and next to determine if he can play Oct. 11 at Kansas City, but Cowboys officials believe Jones, with rest and treatment, will have a more realistic shot of returning Oct. 25 against Atlanta.
"It's possible, yeah," Phillips said of Jones coming back sooner. "It depends on how bad the sprain is when he comes back."
Jones was hurt during the Cowboys' 21-7 victory over Carolina on Monday night at Cowboys Stadium. After a 40-yard run in the third quarter, Jones went to the sidelines and told the trainers he had some discomfort in his left knee.
He did return to the game, but it was clear he was gimpy and was seen riding a stationary bike trying to loosen up his leg.
It's the second consecutive season Jones has been bothered by injuries. Last year, he was placed on injured reserve with a big toe injury suffered as he rehabbed from a hamstring.
As of now, Tashard Choice is the Cowboys' only healthy running back. Choice finished with 82 yards on 18 carries in the victory over the Panthers.
Marion Barber is close to returning from a bruised left thigh injury. Barber could play this week against the Broncos, depending on his rehab work. Phillips said Barber's injury was originally diagnosed as a 10-day to two-week injury.
His return for Sunday's game at Denver is also undetermined. Barber lobbied to play against the Panthers but was denied by the medical staff the day before the game.
"If we have to go with more, we'll have to see, and it depends on where our two guys are," Phillips said. "It depends on where Barber is and how healthy he is and if Felix happens to come back, we could have three."
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.