Felix Jones and Dez Bryant are starters

July, 26, 2011
7/26/11
3:14
PM ET


The latest developments of the first day of the NFL offseason told us Felix Jones and Dez Bryant are projected starters.

Running back Marion Barber was told not to report to San Antonio, as was wide receiver Roy Williams, and that means Jones and Bryant move up the depth chart.

Last season, Jones started the last five games and rushed 74 times for 352 yards with one touchdown. The Cowboys went 3-2 in those games with Jones taking the load for an injured Barber (calf).

When Barber was healthy enough to play in the last two weeks of the season, he didn't regain his starting job. It was quite clear the team was ready to move on with Jones as its starter.

Coach Jason Garrett is not going to give his No. 1 back 20-25 carries a game. But he will give Jones at least 15 carries a game with the hopes of sprinkling Tashard Choice and rookie DeMarco Murray into the mix.

Releasing Barber isn't a surprise, because at some point the Cowboys had to move forward with Jones as the starter.

As you look back on it now, Williams just wasn't a good fit with the Cowboys.

It's clear Bryant has more talent. The only on-the-field issue with Bryant is his ability to grasp the playbook. He has to learn how to become a student of the game, something his teammates have said he must do.

Giving Bryant more snaps can only help the passing game. Bryant is one of those players who can beat defenses with deep routes and with his yards-after-catch. He's also a difficult player to bring down because he fights for every yard. That's how he bruised some ribs in the season opener, by trying to break free from tacklers.

The Cowboys got younger by moving Jones and Bryant into starting roles and saved some money by cutting Barber and Williams.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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