Majorly Crowded Mini-camp

Next up, Rookie Mini-Camp (long trademarked in this space as "The Underwear Olympics'') – and the odd site of two Cowboys rookie draftees battling for attention at the position of running back.

Dallas this year added Arkansas' Felix Jones (first round) and Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice, and this isn't just unusual because the team already employs a young Pro Bowler in Marion Barber III.

It's also unusual in another sense:

In the NFL Draft in its present form, the Dallas Cowboys have never before selected two running backs in the same weekend. In fact, during that time frame, they've never drafted more than two RBs in a decade.

The NFL Draft has been seven rounds long since 1994. Starting then and for a 10-year period, the Cowboys selected a total of two runners (Sherman Williams '95 and Tarik Smith '98) – the same number they selected this weekend in the span of 24 hours!

And of course, since '94 the club has selected a pair of other running backs, Julius Jones in '04, and Barber in '05.

Why did Dallas so often participate in the NFL Draft usually without taking a running back at all? Because they already employed a star in Emmitt Smith.

Why did Dallas this weekend decided it needed two, despite already employing a star in MB3? Has the game – the physical pounding, the speed, the contract situation – really changed all that much in a few years' span?

For now, we refer to the Valley Ranch voices trying to assure us that it's all part of a plan. … an unprecedented plan.

Will the Rookie Mini-Camp be a little crowded in the backfield on May 2-4?

Yes, but nothing like it must've been back in the days before the seven-round NFL Draft.

A quick bit of digging revealed the oddity of two Cowboys running-back rookies from the same class. Once more glance shows how it used to be, when through 1976 the process lasted 17 rounds.

The result: Check out the 1966 Cowboys draft, when they selected RB Walt Garrison in the fifth round. Good, right? But not good enough, because they also selected RB Don Kunit in the eighth round, RB Mason Mitchell in the 10th round, RB Les Shy in the 12th round, RB Craig Baynham also in the 12th round, RB Ronnie Lamb in the 13th round, RB Lewis Turner in the 14th round and RB Tom Piggee in the 16th round.

That's right: They nabbed eight running backs in the same draft. … and two of them in the same round!

Heck, they drafted so many guys at one position that they ran out of humans. (Or were Lamb Piggee going to be sent down to the "farm'' team? Haha.)

Anyway, onto the Mini-Camp schedule, where Felix Jones and Tashard Choice will get their first chance to shine:

Friday, May 2, 2008
10:30 A.M. - 12:00 P.M. (Practice)
12:15 P.M. - 1:30 P.M. (Media in locker room)
2:45 P.M. - 3:45 P.M. (Practice)

Saturday, May 3, 2008
10:30 A.M. - 12:00 P.M. (Practice)
12:15 P.M. - 1:30 P.M. (Media in locker room)
1:30 P.M. - 2:00 P.M. (Wade Phillips press conference)
2:45 P.M. - 3:45 P.M. (Practice)

Sunday, May 4, 2008
Weightlifting and meetings only; No practice and no media


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