Marion Barber is strong on short yardage

IRVING -- Cowboys coach Wade Phillips seemed to take exception with a question regarding Marion Barber's ability to gain first downs on short yardage situations.

On the season, Barber is tied for fourth with four first down runs on third/fourth-and-one situations.

That's ahead of last year's pace where Barber gained just 10 first down runs on 17 attempts. In 2008, Barber also had 10 first down runs on 13 attempts.

The main issues about Barber centered around the San Diego game last season, when he failed to score on three trips from the Chargers one yard line last year.

It seemed to highlight the problems that Barber no longer is a physical back in short yardage situations.

In a breakdown of Barber's runs this season he seems to not only be running well but getting strong blocks. Against the Redskins, Barber gained three first downs, two came on short situations. He picked up three yards on a third-and-one and three more yards on a second-and-two.

In the loss to the Bears, Barber picked up three first downs on two third-and-ones and on a second-and-three.

Barber didn't have an opportunity to rush for a first down on a short yardage situation, but had three first downs, including his first touchdown of the year on a first-and-goal.

Barber has told teammates he's not one to shy away from contact. He prefers to run into people to knock then down as opposed to trying to move away.

"I think he's always been good," Phillips said. "I think the stats prove that out. Every year he's been good on short yardage. You're taking one play from San Diego where he's playing fullback and he was tackled."

The goal of course is to score touchdowns and gain first downs, something Barber wasn't doing on a consistent basis in short yardage situations.

Now Barber is getting it done.