Barber Gets His Featured Role

Running back Marion Barber is getting the chance to be the Cowboys' featured back this year, but don't expect the former Minnesota Gopher to get much playing time Thursday against the Vikings.

The Cowboys have no concerns about making Marion Barber their feature back, which is why they gave him a $45 million contract extension in the offseason, despite never having rushed for 1,000 yards.

He rushed for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. He scored two more touchdowns through the air. But keep in mind that Barber put up those numbers splitting carries as Julius Jones' backup last season. He had only 204 carries and averaged a whopping 4.8 yards per attempt.

That won't be a problem in 2008 as Jones is gone and Barber has been elevated to the role of starter.

Rookie first-round pick Felix Jones will get some touches, as his speed will provide a nice change of pace to Barber's hard-charging style. But Barber will be the focal point of the running game.

"Marion embraces every opportunity of whatever we give him," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "He loves to play football. I think we all see that each and every game."

Barber became a fan and team favorite last year because his running style gave life to the offense. Everybody got charged up watching Barber run the ball.

He gave the Cowboys a reminder of that in Friday's preseason game against the Texans, rushing 13 times for 75 yards.

It was the same old Barber.

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said they wanted to get him some extended work against the Texans because he didn't get a lot of carries in the first two preseason games.

Phillips liked what he saw.

"We were just in a rhythm," Phillips said. "We needed to see Barber get some work in. We'll need it during the regular season. He was awfully impressive."

"It was great," Garrett said. "That's the way he plays. That's the Marion Barber I think we all have come to know and really love to watch. He just plays with reckless abandon. He plays a physical style, always taking it at the defense. It was good to see him (score)."

Barber didn't talk after the game, as his custom. But guard Leonard Davis was impressed.

"He's a player," Davis said. "He's doing everything he's supposed to do and then some."

It was a special game for Barber because his brother Dominique is trying to make the Texans as a safety. The two didn't get to go head to head because Barber was off the field resting by the time his brother got some action.

The younger Barber said he would have been ready for big brother, though.

"It was fun to watch him out there," Dominique Barber said. "He's a great player. But if I was in there, and he was running, you have to do what you have to do."

If that had been the case, it wouldn't have been personal or any brother on brother hazing. That never happened growing up.

"No, he wasn't like that too much," Dominique said of Marion. "He didn't do that big-brother stuff to me. He was always pretty cool like that. We're really good friends, too."


  • LG Kyle Kosier will be out up to six weeks after suffering a sprained knee against the Texans. Joe Berger and Corey Proctor are the leading candidates to replace him, though the Cowboys could move Pat McQuistan from tackle to guard to challenge for the job.

  • WR Isaiah Stanback dislocated his shoulder against the Texans. The Cowboys will see how he responds to treatment before deciding if he needs surgery.

    Stanback was trying to step in the void vacated by Miles Austin, who will miss the first two regular-season games because of a sprained knee. Stanback was going to replace Austin on kickoff returns and possibly as the fourth receiver. If he is out, it will further complicate an already precarious wide receiver position behind starters Terrell Owens and Pat Crayton and third receiver Sam Hurd.

  • LB Anthony Spencer underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last Wednesday. He is expected to miss two-to-four weeks and thus could miss the first two games of the regular season. He was competing with veteran Greg Ellis for playing time at strong-side outside linebacker.

  • LB Bobby Carpenter made a strong case for increased playing time against the Texans. He started with the first-team nickel and also replaced Zach Thomas in the third quarter at linebacker. He led the Cowboys with eight tackles in the game.

  • WR Patrick Crayton had three catches for 39 yards and a touchdown against the Texans. It was his first appearance at Texas Stadium since the devastating drop in the playoff loss to the Giants. It was a much-needed performance by Crayton to regain the support of the Cowboys fans as the No. 2 receiver behind Terrell Owens.

  • Viking Update Top Stories