IRVING (AP) — Julius Jones isn’t feeling robotic anymore for the Dallas Cowboys.
“I’m just running on my instincts pretty much,” Jones said. “I’m just letting the line do what they do. I’m running to where I'm supposed to go, but after that I’m just letting it happen.”
At times last season under former coach Bill Parcells, Jones has said he felt like he “was kind of running like a robot” and not really able to use his instincts because of where the coach was telling him to run. Jones still had his first 1,000-yard rushing season.
Even though Jones carried only 15 times for 53 yards the first two preseason games, he already senses a difference of having a new coach — and had no problem being an instinctive runner again.
“It’s always there,” Jones said. “This coaching staff, they’re a little bit more comfortable with us doing that.”
Jones and the starters are expected to play into the second half Saturday night at Houston.
New coach Wade Phillips is still trying to determine is how to split the carries between Jones and Marion Barber, who was the short-yardage and goal-line specialist last season with an NFC-high 16 touchdowns.
“We’re trying to get a feel. The more we play them now and the plays we run with them will determine that,” Phillips said. “We have to get a feel for what plays they run the best.”
In last week’s 31-20 victory over Denver, Jones scored a touchdown and Barber ran for two scores. Barber has 23 carries for 105 yards in the preseason.
“I’ll take the success we had last year. That was very successful,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “I would like to see a better ratio than Julius had at the end of the year. That’s not taking anything away from Barber. You just need Julius more involved to give us the best offense.”
Jones averaged less than 11 carries the final four regular season games, and his lone TD in the last nine games was a career-long 77-yard run on the second offensive snap against New Orleans. He did have 22 carries for 112 yards in the playoff loss at Seattle.
KICKING FOR A JOB: Martin Gramatica probably didn’t expect to be in much of a fight for a job, not after getting a new two-year contract during the offseason.
But the Cowboys used a sixth-round draft pick on Nick Folk, and the rookie from Arizona is 2-for-2 on field goals with a 52-yard kick. Gramatica is 2-for-3, his miss a 51-yarder. Both have had booming kickoffs into the middle of the end zone.
“I’m just doing what hopefully is enough to be here. I want to be here, I like it here,” Gramatica said. “Nick’s doing a great job kicking. I feel pretty good. You can’t have eight years of experience and expect things not to go your way.”