SENIOR BOWL: 'Boys Eye Explosive RB

The Dallas Cowboys have been extensively involved with the most underrated running backs in the 2008 NFL Draft.

He was the best running back in college football in 2007 you never heard of- East Carolina's Chris Johnson.

The 5-11, 205 pound senior out of Orlando, Fla. was a primary reason Pirates' head coach Skip Holtz, son of legendary coach Lou Holtz helped turn around an ECU program that hit rock bottom just a few years ago.

On the year he ran the ball 236 times for 1,423 yards and 17 touchdowns, helping lead East Carolina to an 8-5 record, including a 41-38 win over Boise State in the Hawai'i Bowl

He's also a participant in this year's Senior Bowl where his stock as continued to climb. In fact, many scouts have commented on his great elusiveness and receiving ability.

"I can make plays out of the backfield and I hit the hole hard," Johnson told reporters this week. "I have great speed, great catching ability and great return ability. I'm a threat to score a touchdown every time I touch the ball."

Not surprisingly, Johnson has also caught the eye of the Dallas Cowboys, who have spoken with the Conference USA standout on at least two occasions, has learned.

Dallas is looking for a running back to serve as a change of pace to Pro Bowl performer Marion Barber. Barber, who just finished his third year out of Minnesota, is expected to take over the starting position fulltime with Julius Jones likely going elsewhere in free agency.

Ideally, the Cowboys would like a running back who compliments Barber's skills- meaning a back with good speed and ellusiveness in the open field and a back that is also a weapon as a receiver.

Johnson would fit that mold perfectly.

His senior season saw him catch 37 passes for 528 yards and six touchdowns. He has also been clocked in the 4.4 range in the 40-yard dash.

Currently the fifth or sixth best running back in the draft behind players like Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Jonathan Stewart, Johnson is likely looking at being selected in the early second round.

The Carolina Panthers have also been heavily involved with Johnson.

UPDATED INJURY NEWS: A hamstring injury may limit Johnson's practice time and/or playing time in Saturday's Senior Bowl. He did not participate in Wednesday morning's drills in Mobile, Ala.

RB Chris Johnson

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