James D. Smith/Icon SMI
There was an 11-yard touchdown on his first NFL carry last season, a 98-yard kickoff return in his home debut and then a 60-yard run that made him the first rookie in Cowboys history to score touchdowns in each of his three first games.
"There's something about him. He's a gamer," tight end Jason Witten said after practice Saturday. "You see him in practice, he looks good. But when he gets in games, he makes a lot of big plays. He's a huge part of this offense that a lot of times we don't think about."
After his quick start, Jones missed the last 10 games of his rookie season. He injured his left hamstring Oct. 12 at Arizona, the only of five games in which he had a carry that the Cowboys lost, then tore a ligament beneath his left big toe while rehabilitating that injury.
When Jones finally got back in a game for the Cowboys in their preseason opener, he had a 9-yard catch and a 14-yard run on his only two touches, which came on the starting unit's only touchdown drive Thursday night in Oakland.
"He makes people look like they're out of position when they're in position. He's just very effective," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "He really is instinctively clever."
Felix Jones was one of the Cowboys' two first-round picks in 2008, the first Arkansas player ever drafted by Jerry Jones, a co-captain for the Razorbacks' 1964 team that went undefeated.
Still, Felix Jones can be much more for the Cowboys than someone to share a "Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!" cheer with Jerry Jones. If he can stay healthy.
Felix Jones averaged 8.9 yards on his 30 carries, his 60-yarder the longest run for the Cowboys last season. He also averaged 27 yards on 16 kickoff returns.
"I worked very hard the whole offseason to prepare for my rookie year. It kind of got my head right and pointed in the right direction," Jones said. "After getting hurt, it kind of got me thinking I need to get my mental part right as well. Now, I feel like everything is clicking the way it should be."
Jones was limited in offseason workouts by a bruised thigh. He sat out one morning session last week because of some general soreness in his toe but said he hasn't had any real health problems in camp.
At the end of practice Saturday, the soft-spoken Jones broke away from the pack and headed toward the less-crowded exit at the end of the field.
"His approach, he's just kind of quiet," Witten said. "He let's his actions speak louder than his words."
When stopped by a reporter and asked about playing again, a smile stretched across Jones' face.
"It was an amazing feeling. This is what I live for, what I practice so hard for," he said, recalling the time spent rehabilitating his injuries. "Thinking positive, knowing I'm going to be back on the football field one day kind of helped relieve a little bit of the negative thoughts that I had."
At Arkansas, where he and teammate Darren McFadden were the only players ever with more than 5,000 all-purpose yards, Jones averaged 7.7 yards a carry and 28 yards on kickoff returns.
"You could see what he was capable of in college. So often that speed gets dissipated a little bit when he gets up in the pros, because everybody can run and there's a lot of talent out there," Jerry Jones said. "What you're seeing is him differentiating himself with his quickness, his speed, his intuitive way he can basically find running room."
With Terrell Owens gone and the Cowboys trying to spread the ball around and do different things, Jones provides an explosive and versatile complement to bruising runner Marion Barber, even though Jones still sometimes feels like a rookie again.
"Sometimes, I kind of get treated like one too, but it's OK, comes with the territory. I haven't played a full season," he said. "But I think it's going to get better for me."