FELIX JONES, RUNNING BACK
Only now will Felix Jones start to be used like a first-round draft pick.
Taken with the 22nd overall selection in 2008, Jones battled injuries and backed up Marion Barber for three years before finally getting a chance to be the feature back this fall—a role the explosive playmaker has never played—even in college. "Felix has come a long way," quarterback Tony Romo says. "He's a smart back with a lot of ability."
Coming out of Arkansas, where he shared the workload with Darren McFadden, Jones became the only Cowboys rookie to score a touchdown in each of his first three games. But injuries (hamstring, toe, knee) limited him to just six games that first year and forced him to miss two more in early '09.
Finally healthy last season, Jones played in every game, and took over the starting role from the ineffective Barber during the second half of the year, finishing with a team-high 800 rushing yards. "He's shown that he's able to be a durable, every-down back," says coach Jason Garrett.
But can Jones withstand the pounding a starter takes over the course of an entire season? The 15 NFL backs with the most carries last year averaged 104 more touches than Jones's career-high of 185. "Being the best running back in the league, that's what I want to do," he says. "I'm going to stick with my ultimate goal, which is to play in the last game and win the last game."