We didn't know it at the time, but apparently Marion Barber had become Iron Man 3 last season. On Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys running backs coach Skip Peete dropped the little nugget that Barber played the final 13 games of '09 with a torn left quadriceps. Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com has all the details in this story.
At this rate, I'm prepared to find out that Barber should have missed at least a year or two with that injury. Of course, this is all part of the Cowboys' plan to repair Barber's image/ego after he became a non-factor down the stretch last season and was surpassed by Felix Jones as the team's feature back. On Tuesday, Peete, who may or may not have been wearing scrubs, told reporters at Valley Ranch that a lesser man than Barber would've missed six weeks with the quad injury.
"He still has a hole in it," said Peete.
Jerry Jones normally plays the role of hyperbole coordinator at Valley Ranch, but Peete's making up for lost time. For the record, here's what I was writing about Barber's quadriceps injury last September. There was a remote chance that he was going to try and play the week after suffering the injury. And I don't recall any member of the club's top-flight medical staff saying Barber had a six-week injury.
Now, I'm not doubting Barber's toughness at all. He's a fearless player who's taken (and administered) a lot of punishment the past few years. But for the Cowboys to suddenly attribute Barber's declining numbers in '09 to this injury seems a bit forced.
Barber has worked extremely hard to lose 10 pounds this offseason and he appears to be quicker than we've seen him in past years. He may very well return to his '07 form, which landed him a lucrative contract extension. But perhaps we should tap the brakes on the Barber redemption tour.
I think Felix Jones will be the feature back this season. But does that mean he'll replace Barber as the starter? Your guess is as good as mine on that one. Jerry's given at least three different answers, so I'm taking a break from interpreting what they mean.
Stay tuned for more injury updates from '09.