Felix Jones makes nice run into Cowboys' backfield void

IRVING -- With Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (sprained foot) officially doubtful for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, Felix Jones will start for a fifth consecutive game.

Jones is coming off one of his best game of the season, rushing for 71 yards and scoring on an 11-yard touchdown pass after breaking at least five tackles against the Philadelphia Eagles. That kind of effort has turned what was once a cause for concern earlier in the season into a solid option.

Jones is finally healthy and in shape and it's showing in his play.

"I feel good," Jones said. "Everything feels healthy. It's probably the best I've felt all year, and I just want to continue with it. I'm just excited to be out here playing football."

Things are looking up for Jones, who is in the final year of his contract and is hoping for a big season to ensure his return to the Cowboys next season or a free-agent deal with another team.

The Arkansas product got off to a slow start in training camp when, after off-season shoulder surgery, he arrived out of shape and failed the conditioning test. He spent much of camp and the first few weeks of the season trying to get back in shape and his play suffered.

He only had four carries in the first four games of the season and that doesn't include the fumble on the opening kickoff that set the tone for the loss against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2.

He then was hobbled by knee and neck injuries that limited him to just 63 yards on 28 carries in the first two games he started in place of Murray.

However, he has rushed for 110 yards on 25 carries in the past two games against Atlanta and the Eagles. Jones said the Eagles game was his best of the season.

"This is a league where you go through all of that and you have to deal with it," Jones said. "It was tough, but I just kept the faith, and I knew I would overcome one of these days and play the game I love and help my team out. It was just about being patient and believing, and that's what I did."

Jones is averaging a career-low 3.8 yards per carry this season, but that stat has climbed steadily in the past two games.

Cook doubtful

Center Ryan Cook has not practiced all week because of a knee injury and is officially listed as doubtful.

There is a small chance he could play against the Browns on Sunday, but expect guard Mackenzy Bernadeau to make his first career start at center.

Bernadeau has taken the majority of the reps with the first team this week in practice.

Veteran backup Derrick Dockery will go at right guard with Bernadeau at center.

"I'm ready to go if it comes down to it," Bernadeau said.

Bernadeau has never played a regular-season game at center. He has practiced there, with Carolina last season and some in camp with the Cowboys in preparing to be the team's emergency center.

Bernadeau said the biggest adjustment was getting used to the technique after being in the three-point stance at guard. But he said he has handled the snaps fine and is good with the line calls because he had been working on them anyway at guard.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is excited to see what Bernadeau looks like at center, indicating on his radio show Friday that the team might be better off with Bernadeau there long term because of his size and strength.

Clarence E. Hill Jr.


Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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