Cowboys Eyeing 2 Running Backs

12 games into the 2003 regular season, the Dallas Cowboys have exceeded expections. Nevertheless, Troy Hambrick's status as the workhourse at running back is in serious jeopardy. Who will the Cowboys be looking at this offseason to replace him? We've got two scenarios that are squarely on the table in Valley Ranch.

It's time to face the facts.

Troy Hambrick isn't the man for the Dallas Cowboys' backfield in 2004. Sure, it might be a bit premature to talk about next year, when the Cowboys are right there in the middle of the playoff race in 2003, but this is a subject that must be addressed.

One look at the numbers reveals the true story: 202 rushes for 646 yards equals a measly 3.2 yards per carry. Simply put, that won't get the job done in the eyes of Bill Parcells.

For years, Hambrick has complained that he wasn't getting the ball enough. For years, Hambrick was talking about being "the man" in Dallas.

Well Troy, it appears that those years of talking have led you absolutely nowhere, and now it's time to pay the piper.

The funny thing is, Parcells knew all of this before the end of training camp. He just didn't have the ability to do anything about it.

Late in training camp and right up to the training deadline, Parcells attempted to bring in a player to fill the void in the running game, and now, the Cowboys' running game has suffered because of it.

While the ground game is still a major work in progress this season, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The Cowboys will move in a different direction next season in the backfield, and the good word out of Valley Ranch has Jerry Jones and company eyeing Cincinnati running back Rudi Johnson.

Another name being considered is San Francisco's Kevan Barlow. Both players will be restricted free agents and Parcells' desire to improve the Dallas rushing game will come into play quickly once the Cowboys are finished playing football this year.

The key here also revolves around the fact that the Cowboys want to acquire a running back via free agency, as opposed to using their first round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. This falls in line with most of the early draft analysis indicating that this year's strength is at wide receiver, as opposed to running back.

Johnson has had a sensational year with the Bengals. The former Auburn standout has more yards on the ground when compared with Hambrick, and those numbers come with 50 fewer carries then his counterpart. In all, he's run the football 155 times for 662 yards. (That's 4.3 yards per carry for all of you mathematically challenged readers out there.)

He also has helped lead the resurgence for one of the league's traditionally worst teams and scored 5 touchdowns to boot.

Barlow has been a steady performer who recently scored on a 78-yard touchdown run for the 49ers. He's also averaging a mind-boggling 4.9 yards per carry. On the season, Balow has 110 carries for 543 yards and 3 scores.

"The Cowboys were disappointed that they couldn't land one of these guys before the trading deadline earlier this year," a source told SilverStarDigest late last week. "And now after seeing Hambrick as the starter this season, it only makes the decision that much easier this offseason."

"Johnson is a guy that the organization feels very, very good about," the source added.

It's easy to see that the Dallas Cowboys have exceeded expectations, even the high, competitive standards set by Parcells. But indications coming out of the organization are the team will make some calculated moves in the off-season to improve the perceived trouble areas within the roster.

And it all starts at running back.

CowboysHQ Top Stories