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Tony Pollard has extra motivation to play in Week 18 finale

The Cowboys running back could hit two major career milestones if he suits up against Washington

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Jacksonville Jaguars Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Pollard has already had a career year in 2022, breaking out as a star in the league and even being named to his first Pro Bowl. But despite these accomplishments, Pollard may have some added incentive to play in the Dallas Cowboys’ final regular-season game to check off a few more milestones.

Pollard is currently sitting at career-highs with 988 yards and nine touchdowns for his rushing totals this season. He would only need 12 more yards and one more score to hit 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, both big numbers in how running backs are evaluated and judged historically.

Pollard would have had the yards and perhaps the score if he’d played in last Thursday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, but he sat that one out with a minor thigh issue. That absence was more due to the short week than anything; all signs are that Pollard could play this week if needed.

But that’s where things get interesting for Pollard and the rest of the Cowboys roster in Week 18. The game could mean everything or nothing when they go to Washington this weekend. Depending on other outcomes in the Giants-Eagles and Cardinal-49ers games, Dallas could end up anywhere from the top seed in the NFC to the fifth-seeded wild card team.

With all three games getting the same late-afternoon start time, Dallas won’t be able to just take the week off. They may make some mid-game adjustments if they’re watching the scoreboards in Philly and San Francisco, but they should at least start the game with as many key guys as possible.

As a key offensive component who just missed a week with an injury, Tony Pollard would be one of those players that Dallas might consider protecting for the playoffs. But with his first 1,000-yard season and double-digit touchdowns in such close range, Pollard will likely push to play regardless of the big picture.

These milestones mean more for Pollard than just items for his Wikipedia page. His rookie contract expires after this year and free agency is coming. Trivial as they may seem to more advanced evaluation, saying that you’re coming off a 1,000-yard season sounds a lot stronger than having never had one.

Of course, Pollard may not ever hit unrestricted free agency should the Cowboys use their franchise tag on him. But even then, negotiations for a multi-year deal will bring Pollard’s résumé under review.

Clearly, Tony Pollard has a few big reasons to want to play this weekend. As long as he’s healthy enough, he should get the opportunity. Hopefully, it doesn’t lead to any setbacks before the postseason.

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