Marion Barber: Eyes Wide Open

Rookie Marion Barber is well aware of the Parcells mystique, not to mention the pecking order at running back.

During the first two days of the Dallas rookie mini-camp, several of the team's prospective newcomers admitted to being somewhat intimidated the first time the took to the practice field under the watchful eye of head coach Bill Parcells. Coaches who boast a pair of Super Bowl rings can do that to a wide-eyed player.

While he respects his new coach as much as the rest of his new teammates do, running back Marion Barber doesn't seem indimidated.

"He's a real intense coach -- he motivates us," Barber said of Parcells. "He's a legend.

"But I think I kind of knew what to expect."

Barber had a bit of an advantage over some of his rookie counterparts, since his father, Marion Barber II (the Dallas rookie is the third edition), played in the NFL, serving seven seasons as a running back with the New York Jets.

"Yeah, my dad kind of gave me a heads-up, told me some of the things to expect," Barber said, "on the field and off the field."

The biggest advice he got, Barber said, was to pay attention to what he's told.

"That was the main thing, to try to listen as much as possible to everything Coach Parcells says," Barber said. "I mean, you listen to any coach you play for, but when it's a coach like him, you really listen to everything.

"My dad played in the NFL, so he's always been like another coach for me. I haven't had a lot of surprises."

As half of one of the most prolific rushing backfields in the nation last year at Minnesota, Barber carried the ball 231 times for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns while sharing the load with Laurence Maroney, who also racked up more than 1,000 rushing yards for the Golden Gophers in 2004. Had Maroney not been around, many feel Barber would have been one of the premier individual ground-gainers in the nation.

As he arrives in Dallas, Barber is joining a team that already has an established young starting running back in 2004 rookie Julius Jones, who surged toward stardom in the second half of the season after sitting out half the season with a broken shoulder blade. While he obviously would like to start, Barber said he has no expectations in terms of playing time.

"Right now, it's not about playing time," Barber said. "It's about how quick I can adapt to the system, how much I can go over all the material. I want to make the team, first, and get on the field any way I can."

That willingness to take on other roles likely will come in handy for Barber, who has joined RB Tyson Thompson and WR Jamaica Rector returning punts in the the team's rookie mini-camp.

"It doesn't matter what they want me to do -- I'll return kickoffs, I'll return punts," Barber said. "I want to make this team, and I want to play for this team."

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