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Tony Fiammetta's value painfully obvious

11/29/2011

The Cowboys don’t know when fullback Tony Fiammetta will return. They still aren’t certain about the origin of the mystery illness that has sidelined him the last two games.

But the Cowboys are well aware of Fiammetta’s value to the team.

“We’ve seen how good we are or can be when we have that prototype fullback in there,” Jerry Jones said Tuesday on KRLD-FM. “We don’t want to in any way put a cookie-cutter approach to what the fullback is. The fullback has unique skills when he’s good, and Tony is good. He knows how to get in the way of the defensive guys. He puts himself in position to help the running back with not necessarily the crushing block, but also the finesse blocks that you have inside there.

“I think it’s an instinct. He has that. I think we do miss him.”

Just take a quick look at the rushing numbers with and without Fiammetta. The Cowboys average 145.8 rushing yards per game and 5.6 per carry when Fiammetta plays, 85.6 yards and 3.2 per carry when he doesn’t.

The splits are just as stunning during the games since DeMarco Murray has become the lead horse in the Cowboys’ backfield. Murray rushed for 601 yards (8.0 per carry) in four games running behind Fiammetta. Murray gained 160 yards (3.4 per carry) with Fiammetta out the last two games.

John Phillips is sound on assignments, but he's a tight end trying to play fullback. It's Fiammetta's natural position, a difference reflected by the production with and without the prototype fullback.