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A Real Fullback Could Help Running Game

While there may only be 15 or 20 snaps a game for a fullback in Jason Garrett's offense, there's no doubting that several of those could be really important.

For instance, perhaps a true lead blocker could've been useful on the run-only three play drive toward the end of the fourth quarter, before the Cowboys punted the ball back to Tom Brady for his game-winning drive.

While Tony Fiammetta, their fullback, has been hurt the last two games, the Cowboys have used tight end John Phillips as a blocker out of the backfield. While willing, he doesn't have the proper dimensions for a fullback, not low enough to the ground, and lacks the pedigree of a Fiammetta in that area.

On the first-and-10 play to start that crucial series of three straight runs, Phillips was unable to handle defensive end Shaun Ellis, who had slipped through the line, and totally disrupted the handoff to DeMarco Murray. Short yardage situations have been a problem for the Cowboys throughout the year.

"John has been a really good football player for us the last couple of years," Jason Garrett said. "He can play off the line of scrimmage. He can split out and he can also come back in the backfield and block as a fullback, and he's done a really nice job in that area. He's allowed us to absorb some injuries that we've had over the last couple of years because of his versatility, his know-how. He's allowed us to do that this year as well.

"We got Tony Fiammetta for a reason. We like him. We like to have a true fullback, but John has certainly been someone who has allowed us to continue to function running different phases of our offense because of his versatility."

The Cowboys' best running game of the young season, perhaps not coincidentally, came in one of Fiammetta's two appearances, against Washington, in which Felix Jones had a big second half following two tight ends and the fullback.

Fiammetta, who has a hamstring injury, should be able to return to action fairly soon. The Cowboys have another true fullback on the practice squad, rookie seventh-round pick Shaun Chapas, but apparently haven't been tempted to call him up while the more experienced Fiammetta is out.

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