Emmitt Smith: 'We need Felix to step up'

During a podcast with NFL Network's Rich Eisen scheduled to air Thursday, The Triplets -- Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin -- talked about the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Super Bowl title, the first for Jerry Jones, and various other subjects.

Smith, the Hall of Famer and NFL's career leading rusher with 18,355 yards, likes the Cowboys' running backs but made some interesting comments about backup Felix Jones.

"And then when you look at the running back corps, they have two good guys – very good guys – and either one of them can shoulder the load and shoulder the burden at any point in time," Smith said. "We need Felix Jones to step up because we know DeMarco Murray can make it happen. We need Felix to step up a little bit – that’s a true statement."

Now, let's repeat, Smith said the Cowboys, "have two good guys, very good guys" as running backs. Yet his comments about Jones are worth looking into.

When you look back on that 2008 draft, we can think about at least five running backs selected after Jones who have produced better numbers. Jones has rushed for 2,326 yards on 458 carries. He's got only eight rushing touchdowns. By the way the five backs we thought about were Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles. When the Cowboys drafted Jones, it was mainly to back up Marion Barber.

But do you really waste a first-round pick on a backup?

Jones is a terrific running back, someone who can make defenders miss in space. He doesn't have the speed of, say, Johnson, but he's a running back who is hard to chase down at times.

The Cowboys have always described Jones as a complementary back and with good reason. He backed up Barber since he came into the NFL and when given the chance to become the full-time starter last season, he lost the gig to DeMarco Murray due to injury.

Jones has played 16 games in a season only once in his career.

Yes, running back is a tough position and few teams go with just one back, but Jones' durability is something that has been an issue for him throughout his career.

And as he enters the final year of his contract, you begin to wonder if he'll get a second deal with the Cowboys.