Area of Concern

The Cowboys have been talking since the off-season about reducing the workload of running back Julius Jones.

And it's been just that - talk.

Jones has 74 of the team's 84 carries this season. As a result he is on pace to break Emmitt Smith's team record of 377 rushes in a season, set in 1995.

"I can't complain," Jones said. "As a running back, you want the ball. I am healthy and my conditioning is right. I am good either way."

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells knows it's not good for Jones or the Cowboys for the long haul to overwork him.

Parcells said he is recommitted to lessening Jones' workload, starting Sunday against the Raiders.

Jones played 71 plays against the 49ers last week - too many for Parcells.

"It's hard to keep track of every single thing that is going on in the game," Parcells said. "(The coaches have) been talked to. They have been talked to. I think we have an understanding."

Look for the Cowboys to turn to rookies Marion Barber and Tyson Thompson as subs for Jones.

Veteran Anthony Thomas entered the season as Jones' primary backup. He has not looked good. Combine that with Thomas' inability to play special teams and Parcells' commitment to younger players, and you will see more and more of Thompson and Barber. That will be the case even if it causes some growing pains in pass blocking for quarterback Drew Bledsoe because of their inexperience.

"It is human nature for a coach to want to play a guy who sure knows exactly what to do," Parcells said. "I understand that, but that can go on forever. I'm committed to playing young players this year, this season. I am committed to it. I think it is the only way if they are going to get better, if you expose them.

"Now I don't want to lose games because of them, but that might happen somewhere along the way. I'm committed to playing them. I don't have much choice."

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