Running on full

Dallas

' success on offense is no secret. The Cowboys' laundry list of playmakers is as long as it is scary. With former All-Pros at receiver and at quarterback, much has been expected from

offensively this season, and they've delivered so far. However, the player who might just power the Cowboys' offense doesn't hold daily press gatherings or wear sunglasses during post-game interviews. That player is Julius Jones.

ranks fifth in the NFL in total offense and their passing game plays a large part, but the Cowboys' run game might be the fuel in their offensive engine. At nearly 147 yards a contest,

is fourth in rushing in the NFL and that is in large part due to Jones, who ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing yards. At 4.5 yards a carry, Jones is not often cheated when Dallas quarterback Drew Bledsoe turns to hand the ball off instead of dropping back to pass.

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The Texans have seen Jones before during the preseason, but never on a national stage, which Sunday's game with the Cowboys will be played on. However, two players on the

roster that know Jones all too well are Glenn Earl and Anthony Weaver. Both played with Jones at Notre Dame and both are aware of his many talents.

"He's got excellent quickness and he's a strong guy with big play ability," Earl said. "He's a real good back. It's nothing new, everyone knows about him."

Maybe now everyone knows, but Jones, in his third NFL campaign, struggled to find a niche in

at the start of his pro career. This year, he's exploded onto the scene and that's something that comes as no surprise to Weaver, who predicted NFL success for Jones as early as his freshman year in South Bend .

"I thought he was going to be a phenomenal back right from the start," Weaver said. "I think one week as a freshman he had over 100 yards. He's shifty and hard to tackle one-on-one. You just need to get a bunch of guys on him."

The old adage is that the run sets up the pass in football. With Bledsoe at quarterback and Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens at receiver,

' passing attack would probably succeed even in the absence of a solid running game. But with Jones' dominance on the ground, the passing attack becomes that much more formidable.

"Obviously, if you run the ball well, you can throw the ball easier," Earl said. "The running game is going pretty well this year, so consequently they've been able to have some success passing as well."

That makes stopping the run a top priority, and if the Texans can do that, well, who knows what's possible.

"Their running game, they're averaging close to 150 yards a game, so it's a huge part of their offense," Weaver said. "If you can stop the run, that allows you to put pressure on Drew Bledsoe and hopefully force him into some mistakes."

Bledsoe has made plenty of mistakes this season, tossing seven interceptions against just five touchdowns. Texans defensive coordinator Richard Smith doesn't have the luxury of focusing on just one aspect of the Cowboys ,offense. As you might expect from a coach whose task it is to stop the fifth-ranked offense in the NFL, he's consumed by all parts of the

attack.

"They (Dallas) got two great receivers, they got a veteran quarterback and they also have an outstanding running game that's two or three in the National Football League," Smith said. "From that standpoint, they're really impressive. It's not going to be an easy game for us. They are quite a challenge for us. They're not a one-dimensional team at all. They can throw the ball and they can run with the ball after the catch and they're very physical and violent up front."

With some extra time to prepare,

should have a few tricks for the Cowboys on Sunday. If the Texans are to pull an upset this weekend at Texas Stadium,

's defense will have to play its best game of the season.

Stopping Julius Jones would be a good start, and hopefully a defense that includes two of his college teammates will have an answer for a player the rest of the league is just discovering.

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