Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Coaches confident in running game

By Tim MacMahon

OXNARD, Calif. – Without prompting, Wade Phillips mentioned the running backs as a bright spot of Saturday’s preseason game.

Never mind that Marion Barber and Felix Jones combined for a grand total of 17 yards on six carries.

“Preseason is not a direct indicator of how you are going to do in the season,” Phillips said. “So the things I look at are different than what other people look at. I see the running backs running well. I think we are going to be able to block for them well.

“Would we like to do in the preseason game like the Saints last week and make 198 yards? That would be nice but we haven't done that. I still think the running game is going to be good and those guys are going to be good.”

Running backs coach Skip Peete is also satisfied with what he’s seen this preseason from Barber (3.1 yards per carry) and Jones (2.5 yards per carry). Peete shrugs off their poor stats, pointing to the lack of a game plan as the primary reason for the unimpressive numbers.

“We’re installing plays. We want to see how they work,” Peete said. “Yeah, you want to see 10- to 12-yard average, but in preseason that usually doesn’t happen.”

It’s difficult to see how the running backs’ preseason performance could be considered worthy of praise. However, it’s hardly reason to panic.

After all, the Cowboys did average 4.8 yards per carry last season, tied with the Carolina Panthers for the best in the NFC. The coaches are confident that they can do that again, no matter how ugly the numbers are in the preseason.