Julius Jones Ready To Assume Star Running Back Role

It's time to shine. Second year running back Julius Jones is preparing for a break out year, after returning from injury last season to rush for over 800 yards in the final 7 games. The last time the Cowboys had a 1,000-yard rusher was back in 2001; that was Emmitt Smith, the man Jones is most often compared to. Those comparisons are just fine with Jones.

"I always put the high expectations on myself," said Jones. "I want to perform the best and every time I'm out on the field I want to be the best, so being compared to Emmitt and guys like that, I'm used to it, and it's not a bad thing to be compared to Emmitt, so that's not a bad thing right there."

Parcells knows he's got a potential star in Jones, so he's doing everything he can to keep that ego in check.

"I saw Julius Jones down in Arlington," said Parcells, "and they announced him as the great Julius Jones, and I went to him and told him that they should have altered that announcement to the potentially good Julius Jones."

"No matter what you do and who you are, he's going to humble you, and I love that about him," said Jones.

"It takes a special guy to play that spot because you do have a target on your chest," added Parcells. "Hopefully we got more guys to help ease that burden this year."

At least part of that burden will fall on the shoulders of 5th year back Anthony Thomas. The free agent from the Bears has two, 1,000-yard seasons under his belt and is ready for a healthy, and productive year. Also expected to have an immediate impact is 4th-round draft pick Marion Barber, who says handling the pressure is simple.

"Make no mistakes," Barber said matter-of-factly. "It's all about knowing your plays, that's what I'm trying to do. Stay studying.'

Part of the reason why coach Parcells is so excited about this years running backs is what lies beyond the big three. While there isn't much more room for playing time, there is a talented group of guys trying to get noticed, including Tyson Thompson, Eric Bickerstaff, and Troup native Keylon Kincade, so it may come down to who shines the most on special teams. As for growing as a group, Kincade says, it's a give and take situation.

"We all take stuff from each other," said Kincade. "We give from each other, no matter if you're a rookie, second year or Anthony, everybody gives pointers on each other, so, everybody is more rounded."

Kevin Berns reporting.