Lance Dunbar confident he can return kicks past 20

IRVING, Texas -- Nothing has been made official, but it’d make a lot of sense to have Lance Dunbar replace Felix Jones as the Cowboys’ primary kickoff returner.

Dunbar, an undrafted rookie who set the school rushing record at North Texas, has been promoted off the practice squad primarily to help on special teams. Discussions about the Cowboys’ special teams problems can start with Felix Jones’ poor production on kickoff returns.

Jones ranks 24th in the NFL with an average of 21.5 yards per return. The Cowboys frequently start drives inside their 20 because Jones takes kickoffs out of the end zone and fails to make tacklers miss. The Cowboys' average starting field position after kickoffs (19.2) is tied for the second worst in the NFL.

“They just want somebody to make plays, get past the 20,” Dunbar said Monday. “And I think I can do that. Use my speed, use my burst and my vision, and hopefully make plays on special teams.”

The Cowboys’ kickoff return failures don’t all fall on Jones, even though he tends to fall down at the 15. It’s not like he’s been given big lanes to run through.

“Oh, I think if you evaluate it, there are a lot of areas where we can get better,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We can certainly block it better and then you’d like to think your returner can make some things happen as well. Has not been a strength for us.”

While Jones hasn’t been the only problem on kickoff returns, it’s crystal clear that he’s not the solution. Might as well give Dunbar a shot to make opponents miss.

“They gave me a chance and I got to come out and play and show them what I can do,” Dunbar said. “This is my time. I can’t let it pass.”