We are about a week into training camp and there are still a lot of unanswered questions for the Dallas Cowboys. One of the biggest ones is how they will best utilize Tony Pollard’s versatile skill set as both a runner and receiver in what could be his last season with the organization in 2022?
Many fans around Cowboys Nation have been screaming from the rooftop, or more correctly probably into their pillows, trying to convince the Cowboys brass to significantly increase Tony Pollard’s workload. Much to their dismay, those cries have landed on deaf ears.
There was hope with the trade of Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns, the departure of Cedrick Wilson via free agency to the Miami Dolphins, and the unknown timetable of when Michael Gallup will return to the starting lineup, that Tony Pollard’s usage would increase in 2022. So far it’s looked much of the same early on in training camp.
Maybe the Cowboys are playing things close to the vest in these early practices or maybe they will stick to the tried and true method of a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott with a little sprinkle of Tony Pollard here there. Your guess is as good as any. But, like they say, hope springs eternal.
While a vast majority of Cowboys fans, and outsiders alike, await to see how Tony Pollard will be utilized this season, it still remains the ultimate mystery right now. It doesn’t even sound as if Jerry Jones really knows how to best utilize No. 20 than anyone else does. At least, that is if you choose to read between the lines of some of his recent comments.
Jerry Jones on @nflnetwork: Ezekiel Elliott "has to be our featured (back). And he is our featured (back). We can feature him in a lot of different ways. It's critical that we make Zeke really the focus of what we're doing. Now, there is (also) plenty of room for (Tony) Pollard."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) July 30, 2022
Okay, according to Jerry Jones, Ezekiel Elliott will continue to be the Dallas Cowboys featured back. Not only that, but they plan on featuring him in a lot of different ways. So, if you’re reading between the lines here it doesn’t sound as if much has changed from the way the Cowboys have used Zeke in the past.
Now, what exactly does that mean for Tony Pollard? Well, it sounds as if his role hasn’t changed much, if any. He will once again play around 30% of the offensive snaps with Zeke playing around 65%, give or take, like they’ve done the past couple of years. What’s left over will go to whichever other RBs they decide to use as backups.
If that doesn’t damper the hopes Tony Pollard will play more of a versatile/prominent role within the Cowboys offense in 2022, what Jerry Jones says when directly asked about No. 20’s usage certainly will.
Asked for RB Tony Pollard’s ideal usage in 2022, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: “I’d like to see him do anything that we’re going to do with (WR KaVontae Turpin). I’d like to see him do all of that. …We just need to get him in creative situations but get the ball, get the touches.” pic.twitter.com/kWfuaZfuRL— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) July 31, 2022
Sometimes ciphering what Jerry Jones is actually saying to what he means to say is a little difficult. This is certainly one of the situations. When trying to describe how to best utilize Tony Pollard Mr. Jones seems to be a little tongue-tied.
First off, it’s encouraging to hear him say they want to get Pollard touches and get him the ball in creative situations. But, him mentioning TP in the same breath as KaVontae Turpin, who hasn’t been with the team an entire week yet, is a bit confusing to say the least.
Jerry Jones makes it sound as if Turpin’s role will be that of a versatile playmaker in both the running and passing game. That’s the same type of role we’ve wanted to see Pollard in since the Cowboys drafted him in the fourth round in 2019.
So, based on everything Jerry Jones has said it certainly doesn’t look as if the Cowboys really know how to best utilize Tony Pollard or how to tap into his versatility. Instead, it’s looking as if they’ll stick to what they know by featuring Zeke and mixing Pollard in here and there as needed, while also sprinkling in a little bit of KaVontae Turpin.
While there are still plenty of time for things to change with a few weeks of training camp and preseason still remaining before the 2022 season opener gets underway, we may want to start tempering their expectations of seeing Tony Pollard in an expanded role. At least that seems to be the case if you are reading between the lines of Jerry talk.