With Ezekiel Elliiott still holding out for a new contract, Tony Pollard is currently playing with the Cowboys’ first-team offense. After limited glimpses in the first two preseason games of 2019, Dallas fans hope to see much more of Pollard’s potential in tonight’s game against the Houston Texans.
The third preseason game has historically been dubbed the “dress rehearsal” game, where NFL teams generally play their starters for at least the first half or more. While there’s still the vanilla play-calling and other typical issues of preseason football, it’s our best chance to see the real Dallas Cowboys before the 2019 season begins.
Until something changes between Elliott and the Cowboys, Tony Pollard is the number-one RB. If Zeke’s holdout lingers, we may be counting on the 4th-round rookie to help win important division games in the first two weeks of the regular season.
If last week’s win over the Rams was any indication, the Cowboys offense may not suffer much with Pollard as RB1. He was able to get yards in chunks on the ground and as a receiver, then capped the drive with a tough bit of running for the touchdown.
Despite scouting reports that made him out to be a Darren Sproles or Lance Dunbar, Pollard looks like more than just a receiving RB. His pass-blocking could use some work, which may limit his usage on third downs, but otherwise he looks very capable of producing in Zeke’s absence.
Without question, we’re hoping that Elliott returns and gets his usual workload in Week One and beyond. But while his status remains unclear, increased confidence in Tony Pollard is good for all of us.
And if another big game helps the Cowboys’ leverage in their negotiations with Zeke, that’s also not a bad thing.
That’s the added wrinkle to tonight’s intrigue. Pollard’s performance, good or bad, could impact these ongoing talks between Dallas and their franchise RB.
No, anything Pollard does tonight won’t suddenly make Zeke decide he deserves less money than Todd Gurley. But it could bolster the Cowboys’ resolve not to give in to Elliott’s demands.
Without question, the Dallas offense is better with both Zeke and Pollard playing this season. But if the Cowboys are determined not to make Elliott the highest-paid RB in football, then anything the rookie can do to make that decision easier is important.
So yes, tonight is just another meaningless exhibition game in a lot of ways. But when it comes to the future of the running back position for the Dallas Cowboys, and how big a part of it Tony Pollard will be going forward, it may mean more than you think.