We are approaching the two-week countdown as far as Dallas Cowboys training camp is concerned and when things finally get going in Oxnard, California there will be a whole lot worth watching.
If someone were to ask you what position you are most interested in watching, odds are you might say linebacker in order to see how first-rounder Micah Parsons looks as he acclimates to the NFL. Perhaps you might answer with the offensive line because you want to see how well Tyron Smith and/or La’el Collins look. Both of these are certainly fair answers, but running back has an underrated level of intrigue surrounding it.
As far as the Cowboys go, we know that the backfield is one that has belonged to Ezekiel Elliott. Odds are Zeke will be given a large volume share as per norm for him, but third-year Tony Pollard is lurking.
Pollard’s workload increased in his second season in Dallas, although it should be noted that Ezekiel Elliott had to miss time for the first time ever in 2020 which led to a larger helping for Pollard against the San Francisco 49ers. Health is obviously a relevant factor as Elliott has over 1,600 NFL touches over his first five seasons in the league. At some point all of that tread will wear its toll which lends to the idea that we could see more put on Pollard’s plate in 2021.
Training camp isn’t exactly going to shine a spotlight on how the Cowboys plan on using their runners this season as, well, it is just training camp after all; however, seeing how the coaching staff is incorporating Pollard early on might suggest that they have big plans for him.
It should be noted that Ezekiel Elliott generally (using this term loosely here) performs rather well when he has a full and normal offseason period leading into training camp:
- 2016 (normal offseason and training camp): Led the league with 1,631 rushing yards
- 2017 (offseason filled with suspension talk): Produced 983 rushing yards in 10 games
- 2018 (normal offseason and training camp): Led the league with 1,434 rushing yards
- 2019 (training camp holdout leading to extension): “only” had 1,357 rushing yards, had what was at the time his career-low in yards per game with 84.8
- 2020 (offseason and training camp limited due to Covid-19): 979 rushing yards in 15 games, career-low yards per game with 65.3
Yards per game isn’t an end-all-be-all, but it is worth noting that it has decreased for Elliott in every year that he has been in the NFL. All of the current talk at the moment seems to be very positive for Zeke which is fair, but that is par for the course in July. He is also still ranked among the Top 100 players in the NFL (number 88), but that is a far cry from his truly elite days.
We discussed the running back position leading up to training camp in the latest episode of our Training Camp Preview series on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. Make sure to subscribe to our channel (which you can do right here) so you don’t miss any of our videos. We are about to hit 10k subscribers which is very cool.