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Cowboys news: Tony Pollard ranked as a top five running back in the league

And other notable headlines surrounding America’s team.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys’ Tony Pollard beats out future Hall of Famer in 2023 RB rankings - Jerry Trotta, The Landry Hat

Where does Pollard land among the league’s best RBs?

SI’s rankings admittedly might give Pollard too much credit, but it speaks volumes he’s garnering recognition as a top-five back.

Christian McCaffrey topped the rankings, followed by Nick Chubb, and reigning rushing champion Josh Jacobs. Pollard checks in at No. 4. Behind him is Derrick Henry, who’s the unnamed future Hall of Famer as a three-time rushing champ and one of the best backs of his generation.

The rankings are rounded out by Saquon Barkley at No. 6, Austin Ekeler, Jonathan Taylor, Aaron Jones and Travis Etienne, respectively.

That’s some impressive company for Pollard. Again, the former fourth-round pick eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career last year. However, he did so on just less than 200 carries. Among RBs who logged at least 150 carries, only Aaron Jones tallied more yards per attempt than Pollard’s 5.2.

Cowboys Rumors: Tony Pollard Open to New Contract; DAL ‘Would Love’ to Reduce Cap Hit - Tyler Conway, Bleacher Report

Speaking of the Cowboys’ RB1.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported Sunday morning on SportsCenter there is mutual interest between the parties to find a workable long-term deal.

“He’s in a situation, I’m told, where he’s looking at this as a win-win because he signed his franchise tag tender at the $10.1 million clip. He’s injured, coming off ankle surgery, so he’s got that security regardless,” Fowler said. “But if the Cowboys want to step up and try to do a long-term deal he’s certainly open to that. Nothing moving on that yet but there’s a lot of time before that July 17 deadline. Certainly, both sides are expected to reconvene and talk about a potential long-term deal. The Cowboys would love to get his cap hit down a little bit so they could sign some other players.”

Having just waded through Ezekiel Elliott’s fiasco of a contract, it’s unlikely the Cowboys want to get back into the game of having major long-term money tied up in the running back position.

It’s possible the team could offer a two- or three-year deal that gives Pollard his $10.1 million salary for 2023 in the form of a signing bonus while also allowing the Cowboys to spread the cap hit over multiple years. Dallas could then offer Pollard additional guarantees that protect him in the event he fails to flourish as a full-time lead back.


If there is one thing fans can trust about Dan Quinn, it is that he knows how to properly utilize defensive versatility.


In last season’s Wild Card round, Izzy Mukuamu’s play sparked the discussion that he should have been on the field more than he was.

Your guess is as good as mine on why he was on a pitch count with playing time in the 2022 regular season.

A total of 154 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, won’t provide the opportunities needed to make an impact.

Needless to say, it was much more than the 2020 season, when he only grabbed 20 total defensive snaps.

The playoff game versus Tom Brady and company was a different story and reminded the Dallas Cowboys what they had in this player.

Chris Godwin ate quite a bit against Dallas with ten snags, but Mukuamu made the necessary plays to stall Tampa’s offense at the right time.

His impact was made in the slot, highlighting why he is crucial in 2023.

He may sometimes find himself back in the slot, outside cornerback position, or even safety.

What is safe to say is that he could be Dallas’ Swiss army knife, and finding places to plug him in the field should be a priority.

Cowboys winning high-risk, high-reward nature of third downs is due to one man - Reid Hanson, Cowboys Wire

One of the main reasons Dallas has been able to win twelve games in back-to-back seasons is due to their third-down efficiency. But are the right people getting enough credit for that?

Despite the high interception total on third downs, the Cowboys are coming out on top. Not only are they escaping with a net positive in expected points, but they are converting their third downs at a top-five rate.

While no one wants to see those high interception numbers continue, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Prescott’s 0.250 EPA (expected points added) on third downs ranked eighth in the NFL in 2022 (which includes his INTs). And his 51.5 percent success rate ranked fourth in the NFL. Based on that it’s safe to say the Cowboys have done quite well on third downs.

Although it’s important to keep in mind, Prescott is the main reason why Dallas has been successful. When filtering for at least 50 attempts, Cooper Rush finished last season dead last (39th) in third down EPA/play at -0.382. Similarly he was dead last in SR with a paltry 28.8 percent.

The takeaway here is the Cowboys have been extremely successful on third downs and that success is more likely tied to Prescott than the play-caller.

Where the play-caller could have an impact is in early down play-calling that lead up to the third down situations. If McCarthy calls more or less early down runs, Prescott is going to inevitably step into different third down situations in 2023.

Cowboys Mazi Smith Future Defensive ‘Anchor’? - Riley Sheppard, Sports Illustrated

Mazi Smith is looking to be the man in the middle.

Now heading into his rookie campaign as the Dallas Cowboys first-round pick, Smith has the opportunity to contribute right away.

“Typically, tackles have a hard time making a significant impact. In Smith’s case, an absence of game-changing plays had less to do with where he aligned,” Bleacher Report writes. ”Instead, he tended to play high and rely primarily on his physical tools. He finished his career at Michigan with only six tackles for loss and half-a-sack.

“With NFL coaching and excellent every-day competition in practice, the Cowboys should coax the most out of Smith, as he becomes the anchor of the team’s defense.”

While half a sack and six tackles for loss over 39 career games can appear alarming, the 22-year-old did his job well of stopping the run - racking up 48 total tackles in 2022.

Now, the former Wolverine has the opportunity to learn from Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence, one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing duos and certified sack artists.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been at the forefront of one of the league’s best units since 2021 and expects them to “level up” this year.

Cowboys wide receiver KaVontae Turpin has more to give to the team - Tony Catalina, Blogging The Boys

Keep in mind, between the XFL and NFL, Turpin played almost two full football seasons in 2022. This year, he is fresh.

With the USFL in his rear view, it’s entirely conceivable that we have yet to truly scratch the surface of what KaVontae Turpin can be for the Dallas Cowboys. Turpin was able to use the offseason to gain fresh legs and use a real, structured offseason in an NFL program to his advantage. Couple that with the opportunity allotted to him to integrate into the offense more consistently this year with jobs open on the wide receiving corps, one could say the chance for Turpin to be impactful has never been bigger.

KaVontae Turpin has looked good in his work at receiver. The Cowboys expect him to have a role in the offense as well as on special teams.

They want to get the playmaker the ball

— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) June 7, 2023

Now this is not a ‘this or that’ situation between Deuce Vaughn and KaVontae Turpin. The excitement for Vaughn is justified. They both can be valuable; in the NFL you can never have enough fast playmakers on your roster. Having the both of them is going unlock head coach Mike McCarthy’s playbook in a multitude of ways that we have not been accustomed to seeing from a Cowboys team in quite some time.

Where the brakes need to be pumped a bit is in the narrative that Deuce Vaughn can just be expected to step in and do what Turpin did last year. It’s possible, but it should not just be expected. Turpin was far from perfect and he would be the first to tell you so, but the playmaking ability was proven and we know what we have seen at the NFL level from him already. The expectations for a 5’4”, sixth-round pick should not be a Pro Bowl level impact player out the gate. It’s not realistic and we should hope he grasps the playbook and secures a job first. The same was true for Turpin until he produced with his chances.

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