If you didn’t notice Felix Jones during the Dallas Cowboys season opener against the New York Giants, we can’t blame you. After all, he had zero catches for only the third time in his career with the Cowboys.
On Wednesday, he was active on kick returns, but only accumulated 61 yards. He left the game with a rib injury but would later return from the locker room. Dallas hasn’t said anything regarding the injury.
When Jones sustained an ankle injury during the middle of last year’s season, DeMarco Murray became the featured running back. He started out on a roll, rushing for 897 yards on seven career starts —including his first start where he ran for 253 yards (a Cowboys record). Murray was sidelined for the rest of the season after an injury to his ankle in Week 14. .
Though Murray didn’t score any touchdowns against the Giants, he still proved why he’s the starting running back, rushing for over 130 yards. After a 48-yard sideline run, it was Philip Tanner who was called onto the field, not Jones.
Earlier this year Jones was the subject of many a trade rumor in Dallas, the thinking being that he’s just not physical enough to anchor any team’s running game. Though he had flashes of brilliance, he’s just not stable or secure enough as a running back. Showing up to training camp in July and failing a conditioning test was probably not a good way for Jones to get anyone to argue otherwise.
Despite being injury-prone going back to his days at Oklahoma, Murray will remain the Cowboys featured running back. But that injury history should be a source of concern for the Cowboys. With a brand new offensive line, it’s a scary prospect pinning the entire running game on Murray.
And though Jones has his own issues dealing with injuries (the 2010-2011 season was the only time he played all 16 games), it’d be an unwise move for the Cowboys to tinker anymore with the run offense. Tanner has been mostly limited to special teams and has taken few snaps since joining the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent last year.
2012 is the last year of Jones contract and it’s likely the Cowboys will opt to let him go (barring some sort of miraculous one-time first-round pick). Jones career hasn’t gone the way many had hoped when he joined the Cowboys, but letting him go this season would be a mistake for Dallas.