Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Cowboys making the right Choice?
By Dan Graziano
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
IRVING, Texas -- With Cowboys running back Felix Jones likely out with a left leg injury and Marion Barber still fighting a left quad strain, there's a good chance second-year back Tashard Choice will get the majority of the carries against the Broncos on Sunday. When Choice arrived at his locker Wednesday, a large group of reporters were waiting. He was very animated and said the fact that he slipped to the fourth round of the '08 draft remains a constant source of inspiration for him.
Choice admitted that he's pressed a little bit when he knows he's only going to get three or four carries and talked about how much better he performs when he can get in a rhythm. And he showed that last season during a three-game stretch against the Steelers, Giants and Ravens in which he rushed for 279 yards. It's obvious that Tony Romo already has a ton of confidence in Choice because he looks for him a lot when he's in trouble. Here's what Choice had to say Wednesday when asked about being drafted in the fourth round.
"It pisses me off to be honest with you," Choice said. "It pisses me off all the time. My mindframe is to show them you messed up on Tashard."
Even though he's the third running back, Choice carries himself like he's a starter. He moved his stuff into T.O.'s old locker and replaced him as the team DJ. He has a ton of confidence and he may end up being the team's best all-around back. Marion Barber is obviously a punishing inside runner and Felix Jones is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.
Choice has the power to run inside, but he also has deceptive speed and acceleration. The fact that he catches the ball so well also is a big part of the offense. And fortunately for the Cowboys, there appears to be no jealousy among the running backs. When Felix Jones was sidelined with a knee injury against the Panthers, he continued to encourage Choice every time he came off the field.
Cowboys running backs coach Skip Peete had this to say about Choice:
"He was one of the most complete backs in that draft. Everyone said he lacked speed, but he’s capable of doing just about everything. He’s an inside runner, he’s an outside runner, he’s capable of [pass] protecting and obviously he can run pass routes and catch the ball. The only knock he had coming out was that he was not a burner, but there have been a lot of good backs in this league who were not burners."
Peete has some experience when it comes to managing talented running backs. At one point he coached Tyrone Wheatley, Charlie Garner and Napoleon Kaufman with the Raiders. Peete told me in training camp that Choice would have a chance to make a huge contribution this season. It's just happening sooner than some of us thought.