SAN ANTONIO - AUGUST 06: Running back Marion Barber #24 of the Dallas Cowboys during training camp at the Alamodome on August 6, 2009 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
When the Cowboys take the field on Saturday night at Reliant Stadium in Houston, the intense rivalry between the Cowboys and the Houston Texans will be renewed. OK, so that was sarcastic.
But when they meet, it shouldn't be the typical boring preseason game. It's dress rehearsal week, folks! That means starters will usually play about three quarters, which will give us a good idea of where this team stands. Maybe with extended reps, the offense will be able to get a bit more rhythm going and we'll get a better of idea of how the Cowboys will stack up against Washington in the regular season opener.
One big question Cowboys fans have heading into the 2010 season is how running backs Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice will be used. There's no doubt the trio is the most effective three-back rotation in the NFL, and for that matter one of the only three-back rotations in the NFL.
Some people believe Choice might actually be the best all-around back of the group — a good runner, receiver and blitz "picker-upper".
But Choice is the odd man out in the rotation when all three are healthy. It's when one of either Barber or Jones goes down that Choice could actually step in as the primary back. Weird dynamic there with Choice.
But the big two names are Barber and Jones. Barber was most effective when he was the secondary back and the great Julius Jones was the starter. Felix Jones appears to have all the tools to make him one of the best backs in the game. He's got home run speed and quickness, not to mention size and strength as he's actually bigger than Barber now. But Jones hasn't proven he can stay healthy over the course of a 16-game schedule.
Last season, there seemed to be a series rotation between Barber and Jones, but I think this year will show more of a "one play at a time" deal between the two. If offensive coordinator Jason Garrett wants to run play X, Jones is in the game. If he wants to run play Y, Barber is in the game. That will keep defenses constantly on their toes and will be a true "change of pace" between the two backs.
But we'll see what Garrett & Co. have in mind soon, hopefully on Saturday.
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