Cowboys consider starting Felix Jones

Updated: March 23, 2010, 8:37 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the team has thought about sitting starting running back Marion Barber in favor of backup Felix Jones.

"Yes. That has been a consideration, and it certainly is a consideration," Jones said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. "I see the advantages the way we've done it [with Barber starting] and opening up real physical and intermediately bringing what Felix brings to the table. But it was a pretty close decision, really."

Jones said he would like to get Felix Jones, a 2008 first-round draft pick, more carries, especially earlier in games.

Last season, Barber led the team with 932 rushing yards on 214 carries and seven touchdowns. Jones had 116 carries for 685 yards and three touchdowns.

Both missed time because injuries the last two seasons.

Jones missed the last ten games of his rookie year with toe and hamstring problems. He missed two games with a knee injury in 2009.

When he returned in Week 7, Jones didn't have more than 10 carries in a game until a Dec. 19 upset victory over the New Orleans Saints in Week 15. Jones carried a career-high 14 times for 58 yards in that game. In the regular-season finale, a win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Jones carried 15 times for 91 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown run.

In his two seasons as the full-time starter, Barber has battled injuries and failed to rush for over 1,000 yards.

In 2008, Barber missed one game with a dislocated toe, but it limited his ability to produce. He carried a total of 13 times the last three weeks of that season. He finished with 885 rushing yards seven touchdowns on 238 carries.

Barber started off with a burst in 2009, rushing 32 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns the first two weeks of the season.

But he suffered a left thigh injury in a Week 2 loss to the Giants. He sat out the next game but didn't miss any others. However, he played the last few weeks of the season with a fractured thumb and suffered a bruised left knee in the regular-season finale.

Jerry Jones isn't worried about Barber's physical style, which might be wearing him down, and Felix Jones' durability because he also has Tashard Choice as the No. 3 back.

"It would concern me if we didn't have the depth there," the owner said. "But by having the depth we can feel good. Maybe Marion had a couple of unfortunate seasons injury-wise, that maybe [if if he had been healthy] we get a big year out of him. If you do that you can hit a home run."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.