SAN DIEGO –It's been a small sample size for Felix Jones in two preseason games, only five carries, but against the Raiders, Chargers and in practice, he hasn't looked like his usual, explosive self.
Jones has gained only 14 yards on the ground in the exhibition games, and drops have been an issue when running routes out of the backfield. For a player who has been seen as one of the offense's biggest weapons over the last four years, it's been an atypical camp, beginning with a failed conditioning test.
The Cowboys aren't publicly expressing any real concern for Jones, currently heading into the final year of his rookie contract. On Tuesday, team owner Jerry Jones told the team's flagship radio station (KRLD-FM) that it is "ridiculous" to think the 25-year-old may be in jeopardy of losing his job. The owner also said he believes Felix Jones could be in for a big season.
Head coach Jason Garrett, likewise, is not panicking about Felix Jones' performance to this point in 2012, but he admits there is room for improvement.
"I think Felix is getting himself ready to play," Garrett said. "He's done some good things in practice and in games, but he has to continue over the next couple weeks to get himself ready against the Giants, at the level he's capable of playing at.
"He's got to take advantage of all the reps that he gets over the next couple weeks to get himself to the point, and then one of the things that we talk to our team about is improving during the season. So a guy like that, who's coming off an injury, it's not like, 'Oh, I've got to be ready for Week 1 and then I'm not going to get any better.' You've got to get better every day."
Beginning his career as a complement to Marion Barber, Felix Jones has battled injuries, risen to a starting role, then lost the top job to DeMarco Murray, who, if healthy, could carry the ball more than 300 times this season, based on his workload in 2011.
The 2008 first-round pick is still rounding into shape after undergoing shoulder surgery that limited his offseason progress.
"I think he's going to be fine," running backs coach Skip Peete said. "He's working himself back in. He didn't have the opportunity to go through any OTAs or any minicamps. The first day of training camp was, obviously, a couple days after everybody else started due to the conditioning test. So, he knows he's working on what he needs to do in order to get himself ready and prepared to play. I'm excited for him, and he's working every day and getting better every day."