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Barber misses practice, but Cowboys still hope he'll play vs. Vikes

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips has a good reason to believe that running back Marion Barber will do everything possible to overcome a knee injury and play in Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game at 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 professional, and the high stakes of this game are further incentive. However, he is dealing with a sore left knee that limited him to just three carries in last weekend's wild-card victory over the Philadelphia Eagles and forced him to miss practice Wednesday. He was the only Dallas player unable to participate.

Barber was well enough to go through a morning walkthrough, and Phillips said he hopes his running back 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. However, they obviously would be better off with Barber 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."

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