The number one topic in the NFL world the past 48 hours has been “Zeke Watch.”
Whether its the media waiting for him at an airport, tracking his car down the street, or speculating over just how close/not close the team is to finalizing a contract, the star veteran running back has stolen all the Cowboy-focused headlines.
This morning, Elliott and the Cowboys finally agreed to a contract extension that will make him a member of the team through 2026. But, whether Ezekiel Elliott is ready to carry his full workload or not when the Cowboys open up against the New York Giants on Sunday, rookie running back Tony Pollard should have an important role in this offense.
The fourth round back had himself a heck of a preseason taking over for Elliott, even leading owner Jerry Jones to publicly utter the phrase “Zeke who?”
Despite being thought of as a change of pace, gadget-type running back/receiver coming out of college, Pollard has looked more like a 3-down back during his short time with the Cowboys. Still, the Cowboys need to do their best to utilize Pollard where he is at his best.
At Memphis, Pollard lined up all over the offense. Often used in the slot as a wide receiver, Pollard caught 114 balls in three seasons in college. With Kellen Moore taking over as the Cowboys offensive coordinator, many have been wondering out-loud what he can do the modernize this pedestrian offense. Possibly using Pollard in creative ways, such as on jet motions or as a receiver in the slot/out of the backfield could help to add another dimension to his offense.
At 6’0″ 215 pounds, however, Tony Pollard has the build of a traditional NFL running back. One the Cowboys can use to spell Elliott throughout games, keeping their now-paid running back fresh for fourth quarters.
Pollard’s vision and contact balance are what impressed me most in the preseason, though. He wasn’t really asked to run inside or outside zone all that often at Memphis, but he looked incredibly natural reading his blocks, remaining patient, and exploding through holes in August.
He may not have been as highly touted coming out of the draft as someone like Ezekiel Elliott, but Tony Pollard should be far from forgotten about this Sunday. Even if the Cowboys star running back is fully back in his normal workhorse role.
Dallas shouldn’t relegate Pollard to an Alfred Morris-type role, only letting him see the field every third possession or so. He should be used in conjunction with Zeke, even playing them together at times.
After all, how fun could a 21-personnel package with Pollard and Elliott splitting Dak Prescott in the gun be to watch?