Another is rookie free agent Tyson Thompson, the eye-catching Irving, Texas, native who will get a shot both at running back and kickoff returns in preseason. This gets us to the numbers game.
One highly-placed Cowboys official said this week, "It may be hard to carry four running backs and a fullback and four tight ends." And at the moment, Parcells has four tight ends he likes very much. Jason Witten and Dan Campbell are givens. Parcells revealed early last week his high regard for second-year blocking specialist Sean Ryan, currently rehabbing a foot injury. Wednesday, he sang more praises for second-year man Brett Pierce, a vastly improved target who is also getting a look as a long snapper.
If one of the fullbacks convinces Parcells to keep him, does the team have room to also keep Barber and Thompson and Thomas and four tight ends? Thomas has no control over this, nor can he influence roster moves that may be affected by other injuries that skew the numbers in the line or the secondary.
Fortunately for the A-Train, money shouldn't work against him. His bonus money is already paid, his salary is minimal for a four-year veteran and he's only signed for a year.
And there's this: Thomas may not be the Orient Express people expected coming out of Michigan, but a 1½ weeks of this camp have not revealed any glaring holes in his game. He runs hard, he catches, he blocks. "I try to pride myself in all aspects of the game," he says. "I'm not saying I'm the best at anything, but I try to do my best at all the ones I can."
Given Parcells' expressed wish to rotate his backs, it seems hard to imagine there isn't a way Anthony Thomas makes this team a little better. He's the only back out there with as much as a full year's experience.
So this week, Anthony Thomas, with two, 1,000-yard rushing seasons under his belt, will play some special teams, and he says he's looking forward to it. He'll go onto that Sun Devil Stadium field where Thomas Jones began his career and try to make the most with the running back time he gets.
In Chicago, where observers hope only briefly and have learned to give up quickly, they'll tell you Anthony Thomas is just a guy.
But in Dallas, in Jonesville, there seems to be a depot opening for the A-Train.