Cowboys happy with 'Marion the Barbarian'

IRVING, Texas (AP) - Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber is making his mark.

Barber backed up Julius Jones the last several years, but the understudy was the star.

Two years ago, "Marion the Barbarian" led the conference in rushing touchdowns.

Barber last year made the Pro Bowl.

By season's end, Jones was the starter in name only, and it was no surprise the Cowboys let him leave as a free agent.

The transition actually started in the playoffs, when Dallas let Barber start.

He ran for 129 yards, which made management so giddy that he got a $45 million contract extension before training camp.

In between, the Cowboys took Felix Jones with the 22nd overall pick, but it was only to pair his speed with Barber's power, not to have a just-in-case starter.

Barber is coming off a 28-carry, 142-yard performance that went a long way toward helping the Cowboys win at Green Bay.

Dallas on Sunday will host Washington.


-- Nose tackle Tank Johnson was a newcomer to the injury list with a slightly sprained ankle that limited his participation in practice.

-- Linebacker Anthony Spencer and wide receiver Sam Hurd went through full practices. Coach Wade Phillips says he's encouraged about the chances of both playing Sunday against Washington. Spencer played only the second game, while Hurd has been out since the preseason finale.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)