It's early in OTAs, so this is the time that coaches like to experiment a little bit and try out some looks they might not in-season. Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy appears to be doing just that, revealing that dual-threat running back Tony Pollard has been taking snaps at Wide Receiver.
On one hand, this could simply be attributed to the fact that a few of the Cowboys' starting WRs were not present for practice. “We have a few guys with nicks. Our numbers are down. We had a couple guys who were under the weather with allergies,” Said McCarthy.
On the other hand, Tony Pollard is a legitimate threat as a wideout. He hauled in 103 catches for 1292 yards and 9 receiving touchdowns over his three seasons in college at Memphis. As a Cowboy he has caught 43 of the 60 targets over two seasons, showing that he's more than capable of contributing more as a pass-catcher.
It would only make sense to incorporate more of this in the game plan after seeing the success teams across the NFL have had using RBs at WR, including the division rival Washington Football Team with Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic.
Pollard is a walking big play waiting to happen, so it's not surprising to see him turning heads in this role during OTAs.
“He's natural. He looks very natural. Tony's an exceptional athlete, looks very comfortable in the space alignments and assignments that we ask him to do,” Mike McCarthy said. “Dan Quinn's treating him as a receiver, so I think that tells you how he looks.”
Pollard had 51 snaps as a wide receiver in 2020, and it sounds like we should expect him, as well as every other WR on the roster, to line up in multiple spots this season.
“We've been making a conscious effort to make sure the receivers play all four positions on offense: inside, outside, the 3 spot, the 3 by 1,” McCarthy said. The fact Pollard is being included in this mix bodes well for his odds of slicing out a bigger role in the offense.
While there will be no shortage of competition for targets in 2021, I wouldn't be shocked to see Pollard increase on the 40 he saw last year. All it will take is one or two big plays to force the defense to focus extra attention on Pollard, opening things up even more for what should be one of the most potent passing offenses in the NFL this year.