Tuna Talk

It still isn't known whether running back Julius Jones (ankle) will play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Head coach Bill Parcells was asked Wednesday to assess the perfomance of rookie Marion Barber, who filled in for Jones in Sunday's loss at Seattle. (Jones is listed as questionable fo Sunday's game against Arizona.)

Recommending His Barber
It still isn't known whether running back Julius Jones (ankle) will play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Head coach Bill Parcells was asked Wednesday to assess the perfomance of rookie Marion Barber, who filled in for Jones in Sunday's loss at Seattle. (Jones is listed as questionable fo Sunday's game against Arizona.)

"I thought he played pretty well," Parcells said of Barber, who rushed for 95 yards in the game. "He's got to take care of the ball a little better, but I think he's improving."

Parcells said it's hard to quantify how much of a dropoff the Dallas offense undergoes when Barber or fellow rookie Tyson Thompson is in the game instead of Jones.

"I don't know," he said. "They're different styles (of) backs. We had 164 yards rushing the other day. In that game, I thought the backs ran the ball well enough.

"I think Barber's reasonably elusive. But they are two young players that we're trying to work in. Barber's alright. But he's got to protect the ball better."

As for Jones, Parcells said he doesn't know when his second-year runner will be back on the field.

"Yes," Parcells said when asked if he thought Jones was "close to returning."

"I don't have a time frame. When the trainers say he's ready to go, he'll go."

Cardinals Tough In The Air
Once again, the Dallas secondary will be facing a team that boasts talented pass catchers. In Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals boast perhaps the top receiving tandem in the NFL.

"They've got one guy (Fitzgerald) who has 11 passes of over 20 yards, and the other guy (Boldin) has got eight," Parcells said. "That tells me they're running with the ball after the catch."

Fitzgerald has 40 receptions this year for 575 yards and four toughdowns, while Boldin has 36 catches for 547 receiving yards and a pair of scores.

"(Quarterback Josh McCown) is getting around pretty good," Parcells said. "They've won two out of three, and those two guys (Boldin and Fitzgerald) -- they're very good players."

Dallas conerback Terence Newman agreed with his coach.

"They're great receivers," Newman said. "We're definitely going to have our hands full. The last few weeks, we've faced some of the league's top offenses, and with these two guys, you've got to consider them right up there."

Part of what makes Boldin's and Fitzgerald's accomplishments impressive, Newman said, is that the Cardinals' offense is largely one-dimensional.

"Their running game's not that great," Newman said. "If your running game isn't that great, you've got to pass the ball, and they do it well."

Arizona Kicker Is Special
As the Cowboys prepare for their opponent each week, much of the attention usually centers on the opposing offense and defense. This week, however is different. One of the Cardinals' most dangerous weapons is kicker Neil Rackers. The sixth-year veteran out of Illinois has the inside track on a Pro Bowl bid because he has what José Cortez -- who was cut Tuesday by the Cowboys -- lacked: consistency. Rackers has connected on all 20 field goals he has attempted this season nine of which have come from 40 or more yards out (with a long of 54 yads), and has converted all six extra points.

"Their kicker is the main problem on their special teams," Parcells said. "I think he has three times as many touchbacks as anybody else in the league -- he's put 19 (kickoffs) into the end zone.

"We'll be lucky to get a good return against him. We've got to make sure we don't run it out from too deep."

Petitti Must Be Better
Parcells said that overall, he was fairly pleased with the way his offensive line -- including new starting left tackle -- Torrin Tucker played Sunday at Seattle.

"I thought they played pretty well," he said. "We ran the ball well, but we've got to pass-protect better … and most of our problems happened to one guy."

That "one guy" is right tackle Rob Petitti, who struggled on pass protection and had a crucial penalty in his team's loss to the Seahawks. But Parcells pointed out that Petitti's difficulty in Seattle was a result of correctable mistakes, not from a lack of effort or ability.

"Rob had some technical problems the other day," Parcells said. "But I told you (media) guys, he's a young player, and we're going to have some problems."

The notion that he'll have an easier time Sunday against the Cardinals might be nothing more than a pipe dream. Parcells said that Arizona defensive ends Bertrand Berry (who has five sacks) and Chike Okeafor (three sacks) -- who will line up across from Petitti -- will present significant problems for Petitti and Torrin Tucker (who will line up across from Berry).

"Okeafor is pretty good, so Petitti will have to deal with him," Parcells said, "and Berry is one of those linebacker/defensive end guys that I like to have. He's a very good pass rusher -- I think he led the league in sacks (in 2003)." (Berry had a career-high 14.5 sacks two years ago, before dipping to five last season."

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