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Status still uncertain for playoff game

IRVING, Texas -- Running back Marion Barber returned to practice Thursday for the Dallas Cowboys after having been sidelined with a swollen knee.

"God is good," Barber said prior to the team's practice at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Barber participated in some individual drills during the open media period, and it did not appear he wore a brace. At the end of the open period, when the first team gathered to run a play, Felix Jones was the running back. Barber worked with the second team.

However, that isn't a indication that Jones will start Sunday's divisional playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings. This is Barber's first day of practice this week.

Barber had limited participation Thursday, but head coach Wade Phillips expressed optimism that Barber would be able to handle his regular workload for Sunday.

"He did run some and ran pretty well," Phillips said. "That was an encouraging sign with him. Well see what he does tomorrow, but its looking better and better for him to be able to play."

This week is important for Barber, a native Minnesotan who played for the University of Minnesota. The team doesn't want Barber to press too much because of his desire to play against the Vikings.

"He understands that, as far as getting his mind and body right," Cowboys running backs coach Skip Peete said. "It's important for him to play. The last two times we've played in the Metrodome, he didn't play."