Sunday, May 23, 2010

King Felix's legs

by Adam Levitan

We no longer have to cautiously speculate about Felix Jones’ potential ascension to the top of the Cowboys’ depth chart. It’s official -- Felix is the man.

Now there’s really only one question: Can he stay healthy?

We know what Jones can do when he’s on the field. An explosive runner at the point of attack, Jones is a big play waiting to happen. Over his two-year career, he’s averaging 6.5 yards per carry. He’s entering his prime for a running back at age 23. And to top it off, Jones didn’t suffer a decline in his per-touch numbers last season (including playoffs) when he was leaned on heavier:

* 14.7 carries for 91.5 yards, 6.20 YPC; 2.0 catches, 16.2 yards; 0.5 touchdowns per game

* 7.2 carries for 41.6 yards, 6.16 YPC; 1.2 catches, 8.8 yards; 0.1 touchdowns per game

The problem is that Jones has been injury prone -- a trait that will only be exacerbated by an increased workload. He’s just one of those guys that every time he goes down you cringe and wait to see if he gets back up (maybe that’s just me).

Jones bruised his calf in Week 3 of his rookie year, 2008. He then missed two weeks with a strained hamstring in October. His season ended prematurely on injured reserve after tearing a ligament in his toe. Last season, he missed two weeks with a sprained PCL.

The injury risk is real. But so is Jones’ upside. He’s running behind a massive offensive line on a team that should be among the league leaders in offensive yardage per game. Yeah, Marion Barber is going to stick as the goal-line guy and Tashard Choice will be the main third-down back. But Jones can do enough with 14-17 touches that he’ll be a high risk, high reward pick for owners willing to gamble on his health.