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Jones looks to have breakout year

A player's third year in the league is usually when he emerges as the player the team expected when they drafted him. Last season Julius Jones was expected to produce big numbers after a great second half of his rookie season. However, to say that he experienced a sophmore slump is an understatement. Granted, he suffered a high ankle sprain in week 6, but he never looked the same as he did his rookie year until the Christmas Eve game verus Carolina.

Jones is now looking to have a breakout season and is hoping he stays healthy as well.

Injuries have prevented Jones from reaching the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first two seasons. Now healthy once again, he still has high expectations for himself.

"If you're asking me individually, it's a big year for me," he said. "Coach Parcells likes to see what his players can do in their third year. He gives you three years to prove something, and I've still got something to prove."

But just how much does Jones need to prove?

 "Everything," the 24-year-old back said. "That I can stay on the field, that I can be an all-down back. I've got that to prove every year, and that's how I'm going to go about it."

I'm expecting Julius to produce very good numbers this year, but not great numbers as Marion Barber will get plenty of touches.

Parcells now has another productive runner in second-year veteran Marion Barber, whose physical style and versatility offers a nice complement to Jones. As a rookie last year, Barber started two games in Jones' place and finished the season with 538 rushing yards (3.9 avg.) and five touchdowns. He also was the Cowboys' best blocking back.

Barber had a smoother transition to the NFL than most running backs because of his football pedigree. His father, Marion Barber, Jr., played running back for 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets.

Parcells said he wants to increase the younger Barber's role this season, particularly as a third-down weapon. But he isn't sure how he'll balance carries between Jones and Barber yet.

"I think we're going to bring the best out of each other," Jones said of Barber. "You always have competition. That's with every position. So it's not a big deal. He's doing his thing and I'm doing mine. I think we'll make each other better."

Sounds like a pretty impressive two headed monster to me. Hopefully, they can combine for 1500 yards rushing and 15 TD's, that would be sweet.

Brad Sham has a nice story on Rob Petitti.

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