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Tashard Choice: Integral to the Three-Headed Monster

The Dallas rushing attack currently ranks third in the league averaging 161 yards per game. Ahead of them are Miami (177 YPG) and the New York Jets (163 YPG). Like the Cowboys, both of those teams utilize a rotation at the running back position - the Dolphins with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, the Jets with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. As we all know, the Cowboys employ an attack that features three quality backs. And all three will be looking to contribute this Sunday against Atlanta.

Make the jump for the rest.

We know that Marion Barber can punish defenders and close out a game. We know that Felix Jones is a game-breaking playmaker every time he touches the ball. We know that Tashard Choice can be counted on to do whatever is asked of him to help the team win.

Often in as the third-down back, it is obvious that the coaching staff wants Choice on the field more and trusts his pass-blocking and receiving skills. In past years, Barber has manned that role. Evident by his 11.5 YPC average against Kansas City, which included a 36-yard score, Choice proved that he can also produce big plays like Jones.

Choice is versatile; Choice is integral. With Barber and Jones returning from injuries, the question remains: how will the Cowboys keep Choice involved?

Today, Jerry Jones commented on the Cowboys' running back situation. While Barber will get the start against the Falcons, Jones expects Tashard Choice to get more playing time.

"I can tell you Barber is going to be in better shape than he was last week or two weeks ago," Jones said. "But Tashard is certainly earned and going to get a big part of the load."

What about Felix?

Jones participated in practice Monday and moved around pretty good. His status for Sunday's game against Atlanta hasn't been determined, though he expects to play.

"We were pleased with how Felix moved around [Monday]," Jerry Jones said. "But we don't know how sore he's going to be [Tuesday]. I think what we've got, the strength of our team is the running back position. It's the most strength that we've had at any spot and we need to use it and we will use it."

Nick Eatman thinks that the Dallas running back situation does not need to change.

I'm not sure why people think Choice needs to start now. Does he need more carries? Maybe a few, but nothing over the top. Don't get me wrong, Choice has been great when called upon and the Cowboys may not have been 3-2 without him. He finished off the Panthers and Chiefs when no other back was available.

But when everyone is healthy, he's still the third-best back on the team. If you need tough yards, give it to Barber on third-and-two. If you need a big play or a spark, Felix is the better option. Not saying Choice can't provide either of the two, but when it comes to going 75 yards to the house, we all know that Felix is the best option for that.

Choice needs to play. He needs to have a role. Not just because he's earned it, but because the Cowboys can use it. But let's not get carried away and say Choice should be the starter because he's proven he can go 85 or 90 yards in a game.

Choice is adamant that this team is prepared for the rest of the season.

"I think we're mentally tough this year," Choice said. "I say that because of all the stuff we've been through — everything that happened with the (collapse of the indoor training facility), having to practice here and there, staying focused, everyone picking each other up, people taking personal blame for losses and not putting it on anyone else, everyone sticking together.

"And Coach has worked us really hard. Even during the bye week, that was the hardest practice we've had since training camp. It was really tough. But we pushed through it and got better."

He says that now is the time for the Cowboys to make their move.

"We had a chance to move up and let ourselves heal," Cowboys running back Tashard Choice said. "It’s now time to exert ourselves and get an identity for our team. It’s time to push. We’ve got to be ready to make a move and get ourselves on track in terms of a whole game in all three phases of the game."

Check out Tashard being interviewed here.