The only certainty right now at running back for the 2019 Dallas Cowboys is that rookie Tony Pollard is an exciting prospect. We don't know yet if Ezekiel Elliott will end his holdout and rejoin the team for the season opener, or who will emerge from the various options to join Zeke and Pollard and the roster as the team's third RB.
There are plenty of other articles dedicated to Elliott's contract situation, so let's focus on that #3 position for a bit. Who among Alfred Morris, Darius Jackson, Jordan Chunn, or Mike Weber has really distanced himself at all from the pack?
The stats so far from the preseason really tell the tale:
- Jordan Chunn (2 games)
- 6 carries, 22 yards
- 4 catches, 12 yards
- Darius Jackson (2 games)
- 9 carries, 21 yards
- 3 catches, 21 yards
- Alfred Morris (1 game)
- 3 carries, 6 yards
- Mike Weber (2 games)
- 12 carries, 30 yards
- 2 catches, -5 yards
Of course, we fully admit that none of these guys have been able to enjoy blocking from the team's top offensive linemen. That plays a major factor in their evaluations.
But given they all have the same dilemma, that muddies the waters when trying to determine who deserves a roster spot. If there's no clear superiority in performance or perceived potential, then the decision could come down to other x-factors.
The biggest x-factor will likely be special teams. We've seen Darius Jackson get looks as a kick returner this preseason, but that may only be because Tony Pollard is currently working as the starting RB. Dallas may be planning to use Pollard in the KR role, where he excelled in college, come September.
Running backs can also make their bones on special teams by excelling in the coverage units. That was how Phillip Tanner spent three years with the Cowboys from 2011-2013; perhaps one of these guys will earn his keep the same way.
If contracts are a factor, Mike Weber has four years on a cheap rookie deal that could help him stick around. He also is the only rookie of the bunch, so Dallas could decide that there's more room for growth and development with Weber than their other options.
On the other end of the experience spectrum, Alfred Morris may still be getting back in the groove after re-joining the Cowboys just a few weeks ago. Dallas may decide they want to hang on to Morris for reliability if they don't see much potential in the younger prospects.
One idea I've seen floated is that Dallas could use Fullback Jamize Olawale as their emergency third RB. He has the offensive skills to get through a game, and then they could call Jackson, Weber, or someone else off the practice squad the following week.
While some parts of the Cowboys' 2019 roster are already clearly decided, the running back position is one of the murkiest right now for projections. Hopefully, one of these players will put in some standout performances the next few weeks and make the decision easier.
DAL 31, WAS 21: Dak Prescott Dominant In Comfortable Win
Fourth year quarterback Dak Prescott is up for a new contract t this offseason, and he's playing like he knows it.
After putting up a perfect passer rating in the Cowboys' season opening win, he was once again excellent today. Prescott threw for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns, and also ran for 69 yards on 5 attempts to lead the Cowboys to their 31-21 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Prescott spread the ball around to a multitude of different targets. Tight end Jason Witten caught his second touchdown of the year, Amari Cooper had yet another touchdown as well, Michael Gallup went for 68 yards on 6 catches, and even Devin Smith had a huge day to lead the team in receiving. Ezekiel Elliott eclipsed the 100 yard rushing mark for the first time this season, and got himself a rushing touchdown as well to seal the deal.
Defensively, the Cowboys were not as impressive. While the final statistics are skewed due to garbage time yards and scoring, this defense felt like they were on their heels the entire afternoon. DeMarcus Lawrence came up with a couple big pressures, but outside of Tyrone Crawford's first half sack the Cowboys didn't create many problems for Redskins quarterback Case Keenum.
This defense will need to tighten up if they are to contend with the elite offenses they'll have to face around the NFC going forward.
Dallas is now 2-0 on the season, with both wins coming over division opponents. Of course, they've dominated the two worst teams in the division, and both match-ups with the Philadelphia Eagles still loom large later in this season.
Regardless, the Cowboys are off to an excellent start to their 2019 campaign, and get to come home to play the lowly Miami Dolphins next Sunday.
DAL 14, WAS 7: Cowboys Overcome Slow Start To Lead At Halftime
Looking to build on their season opening victory a week ago, the Cowboys traveled to Washington today for another big divisional matchup.
Despite a very slow start on both sides of the ball, the Cowboys battled back in the second quarter to take the 14-7 lead over the Washington Redskins.
Quarterback Dak Prescott turned things around quickly after his first quarter interception, finishing the half 12/16 for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns. Prescott's two biggest plays of the day include a perfectly placed deep ball to Devin Smith for a 51 yard score, and a key third down run where he went for 42 yards to set up the Cowboys' second touchdown of the day.
Dallas' defense has looked sloppy at times, but they've played well enough to allow this offense time to get their feet under them and hit their stride. In particular, cornerback Byron Jones is showing why he's considered one of the best cornerbacks in all of football.
The Dallas Cowboys will get the ball to start the second half. Stay locked into Inside The Star for all your postgame Cowboys updates.
Cowboys @ Redskins 2019: Final Week 2 Injury Reports
The Dallas Cowboys are looking to keep their momentum, and pick up another NFC East win, when they head into Washington later today for a showdown with the Redskins. How will the Week 2 injury reports for both teams impact this rivalry game?
As it stands, health is certainly on the Cowboys. While they had to make an adjustment this week for Tavon Austin's concussion, the Redskins are going to be without more than a couple of their key players today.
Let's dive in to the details, starting with the good guys and the final statuses coming out of last week's practices.
- WR Tavon Austin (concussion) - OUT
- LB Luke Gifford (ankle) - OUT
- S Darian Thompson (ankle) - Questionable
- S Donovan Wilson (ankle) - Questionable
With Austin still recovering from a concussion suffered against the Giants, Dallas called up WR Cedrick Wilson from the practice squad. He should suit up in Washington for PR duties at the least, but will likely have a hard time getting in on offense over Devin Smith.
Gifford remains out with his ankle and that should be the case for at least a few more weeks. However, considering Dallas elected not to place him on IR-Eligible to Return status, they must believe he can get back on the field sooner than that eight-week window would have mandated.
Both Thompson and Wilson returned to practice on Wednesday, albeit at limited capacity, and that makes things interesting for who plays today. A lot of eyes and hopes are on Wilson after his big preseason; will he be active against the Redskins?
With both Chris Covington and Jordan Chunn being released this week, Dallas will probably need one more of their backup safeties in on special teams. I expect we'll see Kavon Frazier active for the game and then whoever is the healthiest between Thompson and Wilson.
- QB Colt McCoy (fibula) - OUT
- RB Derrius Guice (knee) - OUT (IR)
- TE Jordan Reed (concussion) - OUT
- DL Jonathan Allen (knee) - OUT
- DT Caleb Brantley (foot) - OUT (IR)
- CB Quinton Dunbar (knee) - Doubtful
- CB Fabian Moreau (ankle) - Questionable
You may be surprised, as I was, to see that Colt McCoy is still on the Redskins' 53-man roster. They elected not to place McCoy on IR, even in temporary status, as he is still recovering from the leg injury that ended his 2018 season. Washington may still have hope that the veteran can return and upgrade their QB position, or at least the depth if needed.
After starting in Week 1 and putting Adrian Peterson on the bench, Derrius Guice has now been moved to IR after needing knee surgery to repair meniscus damage. He may still return later this year, but for now it will be Peterson who returns to last year's role as the feature back.
Also out this week is starting TE Jordan Reed, whose horrible history with concussions has resurfaced. One of the most naturally gifted players at his position in the NFL, Reed just can't stay on the field and you have to wonder if he might retire before long with these recurring problems.
A big loss on defense occurred with defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, the Skins' 1st-Round pick in 2017, suffering a knee injury last week in Philadelphia. His backup, Caleb Brantley, was just placed on IR this week as well. That's a big blow to the front seven.
Washington is also banged up the secondary. Starting CB Quinton Dunbar is listed as "Doubtful" after missing practices this week, and backup Fabian Moreau is also battling an injury. That's a scary proposition after what the Cowboys' passing attack accomplished a week ago.
Lastly, we have to mention that Left Tackle Trent Williams remains a holdout after demanding a trade this offseason. There have been conflicting reports as to Williams' reason; some have claimed it's a contract issue and others that he is displeased with the team's medical staff. In either case, the Redskins' have a big problem on the left side of their offensive line without the Pro Bowler's presence.
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