Cowboys notes: Felix Jones ready to carry the load

IRVING -- Felix Jones is ready for a fresh start.

The fifth-year running back will make his 18th career start Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. DeMarco Murray is using a leg-support scooter to keep pressure off his left foot and will miss at least one game with a sprain.

Murray's absence casts Jones, the 22nd overall pick in 2008, into a feature role.

"I want to help out the team any way possible," Jones said Wednesday. "If that's carrying the load, I'm going to do it."

Jones carried the ball a career-high 22 times for 108 yards last year against Tampa Bay after Murray fractured his right ankle the previous game.

But Jones has averaged only 13.2 carries per game and 15.7 touches from scrimmage in his 17 career starts. He has carried the ball at least 20 times in only two games in his career, though he had 18 carries last week against Baltimore.

In the 12 games Murray has played start to finish since breaking out against St. Louis last Oct. 23, he has averaged 17.4 carries and 20.6 touches per game. He has six games with at least 20 carries.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, though, said he trusts Jones to shoulder the load.

"When DeMarco got hurt last year, we handed the ball to Felix, and Felix has shown that he can run inside and run outside," Garrett said. "And I think we also saw a guy like [Phillip] Tanner the other day going into the ball game and getting his carries against that defense and having some positive success as well. You have to go next man up. We feel really good about Felix Jones, been a really good football player for us for the last four years."

Jones, who failed the team's conditioning test before training camp after a shoulder injury kept him out of the off-season, had 50 plays on offense and 20 on special teams in the first four games. With Murray out most of last week's game at Baltimore, Jones had 49 plays on offense and five on special teams.

"It's just trying to every day sell my team, sell my coaches with what I'm doing on the football field and in practice," Jones said. "That's all I've got to do is just keep showing them every day that I'm getting better and that I want it and that I want to be out there with them. That's my job."

Injury report

Center Phil Costa, who returned from a back injury last week to help the Cowboys rush for 227 yards, was limited in practice Wednesday because of a knee injury.

His backup, Ryan Cook, did not practice because of a hamstring injury, leaving only guards David Arkin and Mackenzy Bernadeau as center options.

DeMarco Murray (foot), defensive end Sean Lissemore (ankle) and punter Chris Jones (knee) also were held out of practice.

Linebacker Anthony Spencer (shoulder) and punter Brian Moorman (groin) were limited in practice.

Cornerback Morris Claiborne (knee) had a full practice, and cornerback Mike Jenkins (shoulder) did not appear on the report.

Same play-caller

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett isn't giving up his play-calling duties.

The subject came up again this week in the wake of the botched final seconds at Baltimore, when the Cowboys ran only one play for 1 yard to get closer for a winning field-goal try despite having a timeout.

Offensive line coach Bill Callahan has play-calling experience, and Garrett said he is open to help.

"We've discussed it in the past," Garrett said. "You handle the mechanics of who's calling the plays and how we're handling the different situations. We feel like this is the best way to do it right now."

Charean Williams


Twitter: @NFLCharean

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