In the last 24 hours, interim coach Jason Garrett has had to defend why running back Tashard Choice isn't getting more carries than starter Marion Barber and No. 2 back Felix Jones, who is leading the team in rushing yards.
Choice has just 14 carries for 38 yards. The Cowboys like Choice's all-around skills as a running back, but view him third on the depth chart at his position behind Barber and Jones.
Yet, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones had some pointed remarks Tuesday about Choice, saying the young running back has to improve on special teams in order to get more time with the offense.
"First of all, Tashard needs to be a better special teams player," Jones said on his twice-a-week radio show on KRLD-FM. "Your third back has to be a real contributor on special teams and he’s not. That really handicaps him."
Choice has always sought more carries and could get some this weekend in Indianapolis if Barber can't play due to a strained calf. Barber is questionable for the Colts game, and Jerry Jones hinted that Barber might not play.
As the roles are defined now, Barber is the short-yardage physical back who starts but gets lifted after a handful of carries.
Felix Jones gets the majority of the carries and is used in the passing game. Jerry Jones said Felix Jones' explosiveness forces the Cowboys to use him more than any other back.
Choice fits in where he can.
"Tashard is really ... I’m going to say this: He's unique," Jerry Jones said. "He really has a lot of the Emmitt [Smith] feel to him when he runs, if he just finds the soft spot. And he’s really a heck of a good runner, but there's more to it. There's blocking [and] foot protection."
The Cowboys have been consistent in terms of playing time for their backups. If they do well in practice and perform well on special teams, they can get snaps on the offense or defensive packages. If not, those players will sit on the bench.
Jones seemed to indicate he wants Choice to get used more, but understands if it doesn't happen due to his inconsistency on special teams.
"As a third back, he has to be a special teams player," Jones said. "We've had a luxury, and it hadn’t done our team good to not have our third back being an outstanding special teams player."