Originally created 10/24/06

Cowboys' 3rd-down back is a good fit



IRVING, Texas - Marion Barber III surpassed his father's career total when he rushed for touchdowns in each of the past four games for the Dallas Cowboys.

"We are totally different players," said Marion Barber Jr., who ran for three touchdowns and caught one in his 85 games for the New York Jets from 1982-88. "I covered kicks. That was my ticket to make the team every year. ... Third down, that's a big ticket in the NFL."

In his second NFL season, the younger Barber has already become a reliable third-down back - and a consistent scorer - for Bill Parcells and the Cowboys.

Marion III scored nine touchdowns his first 18 NFL games, including the four in a row heading into Monday night's game against the New York Giants. That's the longest streak for the Cowboys since NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith had touchdown runs in five consecutive games in 2000.

"I think Marion could even get a little more because he seems to be productive when he gets in the game," Parcells said. "That's something to pay attention to. And he blocks pretty well for the passer, and he can catch the ball. I think we might even think about expanding him a little bit."

Julius Jones is the No. 1 tailback for Dallas and was third in the NFL with 98.8 yards per game going into the weekend games.

"He's an extremely hard runner. Aggressive, fast. It's a good mix to have those two, but (Barber is) definitely a little different style. But very hard, very aggressive," Giants defensive end Michael Strahan said. "When one of them can wear you down, the other can come in and finish it off."

Parcells always had high expectations for Barber, who played at the University of Minnesota for Glen Mason, one of the coach's friends, and had the NFL lineage of his father. The Cowboys drafted Barber in the fourth round in 2005.

"Obviously, it was discouraging to him not to get called on the first day," the elder Barber said. "He didn't have to wait long the second day. When it was the Cowboys, this was a perfect situation from him. From a coaching perspective, you can't be in a better situation."