Why Felix Jones Will Be a Vital Part of the Dallas Cowboys' Offense in 2012

Alex HallCorrespondent IIIJuly 12, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 04:  Runningback Felix Jones #28 of the Dallas Cowboys watches from the bench during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 19-13 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys, like their fans, are tired of waiting around for running back Felix Jones to live up to his first-round draft pick potential, but 2012 is the year all that waiting pays off.

DeMarco Murray will be the starting running back for the Cowboys, but that puts Jones in a role he's more than familiar with: backing up the feature back.

While at Arkansas, Jones backed up now-Oakland Raiders starter Darren McFadden. As the No. 2 back, Jones posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2006 and 2007.

The former Razorback has yet to post a 1,000-yard season in Big D, but his two best years with the Cowboys came when backing up Marion Barber in 2009 and 2010. In those two seasons, Jones posted 685 and 800 yards respectively while averaging 5.1 yards per carry over that time period.

Not every running back is cut out to become the next Emmitt Smith or Eddie George, the Thomas Jones' and Kevin Faulk's of the world are helpful for offenses as well.

The Cowboys have had success in the past using running back tandems, and that is what they should utilize this year with Jones and Murray. The latter should handle a good majority of the carries, with Jones coming onto the field in certain packages that utilize his great acceleration on off-tackle type plays.

One of the promising things about Jones heading into 2012 is the fact that while he did get injured yet again last year, when he came back he played with a fire that was absent beforehand.

After Murray suffered his season-ending injury, Jones came back from his high-ankle sprain and torched the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defenses in back-to-back weeks. Jones ran for a total of 214 yards over that two week span, averaging 5.7 yards per carry in the process.

The other vital part of Jones being on the team this season is the fact he adds depth to one of the most injury-struck positions in the NFL.

Murray will be fully healed from his injury by the time the 2012 regular season kicks off, which is good news. However, Dallas learned the hard way last year just how quickly a team can go from having three healthy, useful running backs to having to scour the free-agent market for an unsigned veteran like Sammy Morris.

There were talks that Jones might be heading out of town back in April, but the team made a wise decision to keep the rusher for at least one more year until his contract runs out.

Jones could easily be argued as the best backup running back heading into the 2012 year, and his presence on the field in limited capacity will pay dividends for the Cowboys through out the upcoming football season.