Phillips: Barber's return to practice 'encouraging sign' for Cowboys

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber could start in this weekend's NFC divisional playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings after his sore left knee held up well during Thursday's practice.

"He's listed as limited, although he did practice and did run some and ran pretty well," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "That was an encouraging sign with him. We'll see what he does tomorrow, but it's looking better and better I think for him to be able to play (Sunday)."

Barber left the Cowboys' playoff opener against the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend after just three carries because coaches could tell he wasn't running at full strength. He was held out of practice Wednesday.

Besides the stakes of the game, Barber has the further incentive of playing in his home state for the first time.

"He needs to show a little bit more, but he showed a lot today," Phillips said.

Barber led the Cowboys in rushing yards (932) and rushing touchdowns (seven) this season. However, the team has two capable, healthy backups in Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.

The Cowboys also hope to have backup safety Pat Watkins back after he missed four games with a knee injury.

"I think he'll be able to play this week," Phillips said. "He's one of our best special teamers."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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