Choo-Choo: Time For A-Train

season, then one of the other 31 teams would have attempted to sign him as their starter once he hit free agency.

And who knows, that might have even been the point Parcells was making to Thomas this week during their mostly one-sided discussion. Of course, the coach didn't reveal to the media the actual details of what he said, but it might have been along the lines of Thomas' backup status.

Parcells is known for being rather blunt, but honest with his players. And after Thomas spoke up to one media outlet last week, stating if he's not playing with the Cowboys maybe it would be better if he was somewhere else, maybe the conversation was Parcells' way of bringing Thomas down to earth.

"I told him what my perception of things was and what I thought his perceptions should be," Parcells said of Thomas. "I think we're on the same page exactly. I'm not going into what I said to the player, but I think we have an understanding of what I want from him and I think he knows. I was trying to give him real good advice. Real good advice, something I truly believe to be the situation.

"I would never try to never tell a player something I didn't believe to be true. I would never do that. I told him exactly what I thought where he was in this world and I'm hopeful he's receptive to it."

So just where is Thomas in this world? OK, check that. Let's see if we can scale it down a bit. Just where is Thomas in the Cowboys' world?

Well, if Julius Jones indeed misses Sunday's game with a high ankle sprain, Thomas will be in a much more prominent place.

As mentioned earlier, Thomas might not be a better long-term prospect than either Thompson or Barber. As a fifth-year pro, maybe his best days are behind him.

But that's not the point.

Remember what Parcells said on Thursday, citing a phrase he often tells his young players, particularly the rookies:

"I keep telling these young players I don't need you four weeks from now - I need you now. Let's go."

And four weeks from now, Thompson might just be a better fit, and might even have gained more of Parcells' trust.

But on Sunday, Thomas should be the main guy.

He's bigger. He's stronger. He's certainly more experienced. In a division game against a tough opponent like the Giants, the Cowboys need a back who has been there.

Even with Jones, the Cowboys had some inexperience. Of course, you deal with it, if the same player can get you 198 yards and three touchdowns like he did last year in Seattle. Or what about the 148 he posted against these Giants in last year's season finale?

But without Jones, the Cowboys should go to Thomas, who ironically had his best game of the season last year against the Giants, rushing for 110 yards and two scores as a member of the Bears.

But that was in mid-season. Thomas finished the year with just 24 carries in the last seven games, and was inactive in three of those games. This year, he's been inactive twice and has only nine carries for 14 carries.

"This is definitely something different from what I expected when I came in," Thomas said of his role. "But I just have to wait my turn. That's what (Parcells) told me. When the opportunity comes, I have to be ready. So that's what I'm going to do. Be ready when it's my turn."

And if Jones can't go Sunday, it should be Thomas' turn.

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