Fresh Start for Veteran RB

Bill Parcells says the Cowboys have more talent at running back than at any time during his three years with the team.

Of course he likes second-year man Julius Jones, who is expected to have a big year, but he also likes rookie draft pick Marion Barber III.

The guy that puts the group over the hump is veteran free agent pickup Anthony Thomas, who came to Dallas from Chicago. The former Michigan star had two 1,000 yard seasons in his first three years in Chicago before seeing his production tail off.

Last season he backed up Thomas Jones, the older brother of Julius Jones.

On the season, he had career lows of 404 yards, a 3.3 average and two touchdowns in 2004.

The Bears decided not to resign him in free agency and he ended up in Dallas for $950,000 on a one-year deal.

In Dallas, Thomas will serve primarily as change up pace to Jones and be a goal line and short yardage back.

"I look at him as a between-the-tackle runner a little bit," coach Bill Parcells said recently. "A pretty tough guy, so my vision for him right now would be a thumper kind of running back-short yard and goal line... But that's not going to be enough. He's going to have to venture out into the special teams area, which is something he's not been asked to do in his past career much."

Thomas will obviously also be a proven veteran who could step in if Jones gets injured and Barber is not quite ready to handle the load.

"It's a long season," Thomas said. "You know you're going to get banged up, so you've got to have another guy to come in and try to help them out and try to get some of those bings and bangs from him.

"This is a fresh start for me and I'm thankful for the opportunity. I think I can bring some things to the table that help us out."

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