Cowboys playing it safe with RB Barber; Choice OK after hard hit

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber is headed home to Minnesota for a playoff game Sunday. Whether he can play -- or how much he plays -- depends on how his left knee heals this week.

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said Monday that Barber won't practice Wednesday as a precaution. He missed some practice time last week, tried to play Saturday night, then was stuck on the sideline after his three carries netted just 4 yards.

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"He's already better than he was last week and better than he was after the game," Phillips said. "So we think he's going to be all right. And I know he wants to play going back to Minnesota. But we'll monitor it."

Barber grew up in Wayzata, Minn., and played college football at Minnesota. If he can't start or is limited in Sunday's NFC divisional-round playoff game against the Vikings, that would mean more carries for Felix Jones, who had a career-high 146 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night.

Third-string running back Tashard Choice appeared woozy while leaving the field after a hard hit in the fourth quarter against the Eagles. Because Choice was coming off a mild concussion the previous week, doctors immediately tested for another concussion. They said Choice was fine, and he has been cleared to practice.

"I just got my bell rung, man," Choice said. "Nothing like the week before when I felt like I was a little dazed. It was the end of the game and just wanted to make sure everything was cool. But I could have went back in. I was going to go back into the game. I wanted to. It ain't no big thing. Everything is cool."

While Barber has a homecoming to look forward to, Choice will get to catch up with former college teammate Adrian Peterson, who has been sharing the spotlight in Minnesota with Brett Favre.

Choice went to Oklahoma in 2003, took a redshirt, then in '04 found himself playing behind Peterson, a true freshman. Peterson ran for 1,925 yards and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, so Choice transferred to Georgia Tech. Choice holds no animosity, just respect.

"We pushed each other every day," Choice said. "He pushed himself to be great. That's why I like him. Not because of the talent, but because of how he works. ... When he runs the football, he doesn't want nobody tackling him. Like he's angry. I love the way he runs the football, man. Great running back."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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