While the Cowboys may have managed just three points in Thursday night’s Hall of Fame Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a few offensive players did flash a bit. Among them was running back Rico Dowdle, whose 43 yards on eight carries (5.4 per avg.) displayed his great burst and quick feet, capped off by a 25-yard scamper through the heart of the Steeler defense. It was a solid showing in a game in which second-string running back Tony Pollard rushed just twice for nine yards.
A second-year player, Dowdle originally went undrafted out of South Carolina before signing with the Cowboys and then suiting up in 15 games last season. In that time, he logged seven carries and 24 yards (3.4 average). Not exactly the strongest first act, but the sequel looks to be off to an encouraging start. As was noted on the sidelines by Erin Andrews during her interview with Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb, this year is, in a way, Lamb’s—and thus Dowdle’s—first training camp experience given how limited teams were last season due to safety protocols.
While there’s no question Pollard will remain Ezekiel Elliott’s backup, Dowdle does present an interesting situation. It may be a small sample size but, based on Dowdle’s performance thus far, if Dallas did attempt to stash him on their practice squad, the former Gamecock could ultimately get scooped up by another team—perhaps even a division rival like New York.
Dallas probably won’t be running that risk. Dowdle looks like a clear-cut third back third on their depth chart and should serve as a viable insurance policy on Elliott and Pollard over the course of the season. He is also a key member of the special teams, playing on 44% of the snaps last year. That’s value-add. He’ll have plenty of opportunities throughout the rest of the preseason to further cement his status, of course, but his first showing easily placed him among Thursday night’s “winners.”
For Dowdle, the biggest issue may come down to health as his collegiate career saw a sports hernia, broken leg, and a knee injury while at South Carolina. But if his body can hold up, Dallas could have itself a viable insurance policy for the future in the event Pollard isn’t signed to a second contract after next season.
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