<
>

Felix Jones should return kicks

IRVING, Texas -- When Felix Jones returns, maybe this week, his role needs to be redefined.

It's clear he won't be the lead running back anymore thanks to the effort of rookie DeMarco Murray.

There is a role for Jones on this team.

He can be the third-down back despite seeing Murray do a nice job in picking up the blitz and catching the ball out of the backfield if necessary on third down.

Jones’ role should also involve kick returns.

The last time Jones returned a kick in a regular season game was Dec. 19, 2009, at New Orleans. In his rookie season, 2008, Jones averaged 27 yards a return in just six games before toe and hamstring injuries ended his season. In 2009, Jones had two games with over 100 kick return yards and four games where he ended with at least 60 return yards.

Last season the team focused on then-rookie Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, and it was met with mixed results. He averaged 21.1 yards a return before his season ended due to injury.

This season, Dwayne Harris and Kevin Ogletree have been the main returners and haven't had much impact. As a unit, the Cowboys rank 30th in the NFL with 279 return yards and 14th in return average at 21.5. Last season, the Cowboys finished seventh in the league with 1,558 return yards.

Moving Jones to kickoff duty gives the Cowboys a legitimate threat in the return game, something that's been missing this year.

Jones' health raises questions about moving him there because he’s been nicked up every year with the exception of last year. But if you're worried about his health all the time, just cut him.

The rules changed to help curtail the number of injuries on kickoffs. Kickoffs moved from 30 to 35 this year, something the Cowboys voted for last spring.

If the Cowboys want to make the best use of their running backs, use Murray as the No. 1 running back and Jones as the kick returner/third-down back.

You shouldn’t worry about egos here because Jones doesn’t have a big one. Yes he did say he wants to be the best running back in the NFL, but that’s not happening right now. He will get his touches, just in different ways.

His rookie year was strong. His second game he returned six kicks for 247 yards with a 98-yard touchdown return. As a running back playing behind Marion Barber, Jones averaged 8.9 yards per carry with three scores.

Jones does big things with a limited role, and that’s what the Cowboys should keep him in going forward.