IRVING, Texas (AP) — Felix Jones fumbled away the opening kickoff then tripped while running alone after a short catch on the final play for the Dallas Cowboys.
Those were the bookend plays in the last game for the former first-round draft pick, who has only one rushing attempt for no gain so far this season.
Even though Jones isn't breaking off the kind of explosive plays the Cowboys (No. 14 in the AP Pro 32) want to see, and had the big opening mistake that led to a quick Seattle score, coach Jason Garrett remained committed Wednesday to Jones returning kicks.
"Yeah, Felix has been such a good player for us," Garrett said. "He's coming off the injury from last year and if you just look at his track record as a play-making type player, both on offense and in the kicking game, he's been pretty darn good."
Jones was the first rookie in Cowboys history to score touchdowns in his first three games, including a 98-yard kickoff return — but that was four years ago for the running back.
There were consecutive 100-yard rushing games for Jones last December, but that was after DeMarco Murray's broken right ankle that ended his breakout rookie season. Murray got his chance when Jones missed four games with a left ankle sprain.
Jones, who has played only one full 16-game season, missed much of this past offseason after shoulder surgery. Then he was then one of three players who failed the initial conditioning test, a series of timed sprints, at the start of training camp.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones scoffed at the idea in training camp that Felix Jones, now in the final year of his rookie contract, might be in danger of losing his roster spot.
The owner said on his weekly radio show this week — after the 27-7 loss at Seattle — that his feelings haven't changed. When asked why, he gave a terse reply: "Because I do. I feel like we are in good shape."
The Cowboys (1-1) play their home opener Sunday against Tampa Bay (1-1).
"I think we saw him be quick at practice last week. I think we need to give him a little more room out there," Jerry Jones said. "We have over the years been reluctant to use him as a kickoff returner because we didn't want to risk injury, but we've decided this year to use him as a kickoff returner. He should be a great asset for us. That's the way it remains."