The importance of running backs is a big debate right now throughout the NFL, but they’re still a big deal in Dallas. The Cowboys have one of the league’s best, but Ezekiel Elliott may not be with them when training camp starts on Saturday. They also have questions marks throughout the depth chart for 2019.
Will Zeke report to camp? That is the question of the week right now, and will only be fueled by Melvin Gordon’s confirmed holdout with the Chargers. All we have right now are rumors from someone with notoriously questionable journalistic practices.
If he’s here, obviously Elliott is the top RB and the focal point of the Cowboys offense. And while he may not be a guy who generally needs the extra work in July and August, Zeke would benefit from being present while Kellen Moore’s new offensive wrinkles are being installed.
You can check out site for many recent articles about Zeke’s potential holdout. For today, we’re going to focus on the rest of the running backs and what training camp may mean for them.
Here’s the projected RB depth chart for this 2019 training camp:
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Tony Pollard
- Darius Jackson
- Mike Weber
- Jordan Chunn
- Jamize Olawale
- Ryan Yurachek
With or without Zeke, rookie RB Tony Pollard will be a focal point for many over the next few weeks. Dallas used a 4th-round pick to acquire him in April, and he’s expected to walk into the backup role and perhaps other duties as well.
Pollard has the physical tools and receiving skills to line up at receiver. He should also challenge for the kick and punt return duties, making for an interesting battle with veteran Tavon Austin. In fact, it may be hard for Austin to make the team if Pollard shines in these various roles.
7th-round rookie Mike Weber and fourth-year veteran Darius Jackson should have a good fight for a roster spot. Weber may have the edge with his power game, providing something different from what Tony Pollard offers. Jackson is more of a speed back like Pollard, perhaps making him redundant and expendable.
Another power runner, and underrated among this group, is Jordan Chunn. He was with the team throughout 2018 as an undrafted rookie and practice squad player.
With the margin between late-round picks and undrafted guys being so slim, who’s to say that Chunn can’t beat out Jackson and Weber? These three should all be considered candidates to make the team, and hopefully do enough that Dallas doesn’t go looking for free agent help the real games begin.
At fullback, veteran Jamize Olawale was re-signed this offseason to a three-year deal that made him the third-highest paid FB in the NFL. He’s making the team, and hopefully this is a sign that Kellen Moore plans to get a lot more out of Olawale’s receiving ability than Scott Linehan did.
Last month, Dallas also added Ryan Yurachek as a backup FB. Also known for receiving skills, having played tight end in college, Yurachek’s arrival could be taken as a sign of a changing fullback usage for the Cowboys.
Of course, our true concern is with Ezekiel Elliott. We don’t want to worry about some lingering contract dispute and to have him with the team from the first day of camp.
But Zeke or no Zeke, the running back position will give us plenty to talk about in the weeks ahead.
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