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Barber misses practice; Cowboys hope former Gopher star will play

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Cowboys coach Wade Phillips has a good reason to believe running back Marion Barber will do everything possible to overcome a knee injury in time to play a second-round playoff game in Minnesota.

"He's been mad at me the last two years because I didn't let him play in the preseason game there," Phillips said, chuckling. "So I know he wants to play there just from that."

Barber has never played in his home state as a pro, and the high stakes of Sunday's game are further incentive. However, he is dealing with a sore left knee that limited him to three carries this past weekend and forced him to miss practice Wednesday. He was the only Dallas player unable to participate.

He was well enough to go through a morning walkthrough. Phillips said he's hoping Barber will practice Thursday.

"I think he's better," Phillips said. "I don't think it got worse (playing on it Saturday night). We thought he was OK, but he wasn't quite ready."

Backup Felix Jones and third-stringer Tashard Choice combined for nearly 200 yards against the Eagles, so it's not like the Cowboys would be shattered by losing their leading rusher.

Yet the club obviously would be better off with him and his smashmouth style.

"Marion's the kind of guy that can supercharge the team," Phillips said. "He doesn't say a whole lot, but he says a lot with his expressions and the way he runs with the football."