Felix Jones wants to be best

SAN ANTONIO -- Felix Jones is thinking big for 2011.

"Just being the best running back in the league," Jones said. "That's what I want to do; just go out every day, compete and get better at everything I do."

Jones became the Cowboys' featured back after coach Jason Garrett took over at the midway point of the 2010 season and finished with a career-high 800 yards on 185 carries. He also caught a career-high 48 passes.

His words were not boastful but matter of fact as he attempts to join the likes of Tennessee's Chris Johnson, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson or Houston's Arian Foster.

The 22nd pick in the 2008 draft, Jones has seen backs drafted after him like Johnson, Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendenhall, Chicago's Matt Forte and Baltimore's Ray Rice have more success. His two Arkansas teammates, Cleveland's Peyton Hillis (1,177) and Oakland's Darren McFadden (1,157) had 1,000-yard seasons in 2010

Since Emmitt Smith was cut by the Cowboys before the 2003 season, the team has had only one 1,000-yard rusher. Julius Jones had 1,084 yards in 2006.

"It's a lot guys out there that are good at what they do," Jones said. "I've just got to try to separate myself and do things even better."

Jones will get more of a chance to put up the numbers this year than in his first three since the Cowboys cut Marion Barber. Jones had 498 yards in the last eight weeks, including 228 yards in the last three games. He had 11 or more carries in every game in the second half of the year after having only four games with that many in his first 28 contests.

Jones said his "be the best" mantra is not something new.

"You don't come out here to go through the motions," he said.

Garrett has liked Jones' approach to training camp.

"Just because he's played with another guy in college or with another guy since he's been here in the NFL doesn't mean he's not capable of doing the other thing," Garrett said. "There's been no indication of that from us. I think he's gotten physically stronger in the couple years he's been in the NFL. He's shown he can be more durable and I think he's just ready to take the next step as a player."

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.