To start, Thomas fills Dallas' short-yardage gap
Web Posted: 06/02/2005 12:00 AM CDT
Express-News Staff Writer
IRVING — Lost in the hype surrounding the Dallas Cowboys' offseason moves at quarterback, defensive line and cornerback was the team's acquisition of a "thumper."
That's Bill Parcells' term for a power running back, which is what the coach says the Cowboys have in Anthony Thomas.
"I look at him as a between-the-tackles runner, a pretty tough guy," Parcells said of the 6-foot-2, 228-pound former featured back for the Chicago Bears. "My vision for him right now would be some short yardage, goal line, that kind of thing."
Parcells discovered last season that Julius Jones was more than capable of carrying the load, especially after the former Notre Dame star became just the second player in NFL history to record three consecutive games with at least 30 carries.
But even as Jones darted and dashed his way to 819 yards and seven touchdowns on 197 carries in his rookie season, Parcells repeatedly expressed his desire to employ a one-two punch at running back. His model was Pittsburgh, which had a power runner in Jerome Bettis and two quicker backs in Duce Staley and Vernon Hayes.
"That's what you'd like to have, two elusive guys and a big thumper," Parcells said in December. "You would like to have a little variety. But if you ask me what I would like to have first, I would say elusiveness."
The Cowboys clearly have that in Jones. And now they've got their thumper in Thomas, who said at mini-camp last week that he'll be ready to step into the lineup should Jones go down with an injury.
"It's a long season," said Thomas, 27. "Sixteen games, plus playoffs. Someone is going to get banged up. You have to have another guy who can come in and help out."
Thomas did more than help out in his first three seasons with the Bears, scoring 19 TDs and twice rushing for more than 1,000 yards. But he lost his starting job last season to Jones' older brother, Thomas Jones, and finished with just 404 yards and two TDs on 122 attempts.
The Bears cut Thomas after drafting Texas running back Cedric Benson in April with the fourth overall pick. Nine days later, Thomas joined the Cowboys as an unrestricted free agent.
"Chicago is done," Thomas said at mini-camp. "I ain't talking about that. This is a new start."
That new start will include new duties, Parcells said.
"(Playing running back) isn't going to be enough," Parcells said. "He's now got to venture out into the special-teams area, which is something he's not been asked to do much in the past. If he can't get into producing some on special teams, then there won't be enough jobs for him."
Even though the Cowboys signed him to spell Jones, Thomas said he would try to change that arrangement.
"It's going to be competitive," Thomas said.
Although he said he didn't want to talk about his days in Chicago, Thomas made it clear he is happy to be with a team he believes is moving in the right direction.
"There are a lot of guys here that want to compete and go out and win and go to the next level," Thomas said. "There's no question that that's what I want to do."
2 things to take from this:
1. This is bad news to the fantasy football world. Julius Jones' value will take a dip and this news will probably drop him down from the top of the 2nd round, to the bottom half of the 2nd. I think you should plan to handcuff Thomas in the mid rounds if you plan on taking Jones early.
2. Parcells mentioning Thomas will have to contribute on special teams otherwise there wont be many jobs available adds another twist. What exactly does that mean? What about Barber?