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Cowboys training camp battle of the day: Practice #1

The running backs will command plenty of attention.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Football is officially back, with the Cowboys holding their first practice of training camp on Wednesday. Just the day before, Dallas maxed out their roster at 90 players with the signing of Josh Butler, and in just about a month they’ll have to cut it down to 53 players.

That means Wednesday was the official beginning of a handful of battles that will be held throughout camp, whether it’s offensive players squaring off against defensive players or players of the same position trying to make their case for a roster spot.

As you’d expect, the first day didn’t see anyone necessarily make waves just yet, but there was quite a bit of focus on the running back group.

Tony Pollard enters camp as the lead back for the first time in his career, and he’ll be doing it on the franchise tag. He’s also coming off a pretty serious leg injury that he sustained in the final playoff game last year. Wednesday gave us our first look at Pollard since then, and the results were more than positive.

Behind Pollard, there is a pretty deep running back room competing for two or three roster spots. Holdovers from the past year include Rico Dowdle and Malik Davis, while veteran Ronald Jones has the most experience. Rookie Deuce Vaughn, though, was the one who caught everyone’s attention despite being hard to find at times due to his small stature.

This is a positional battle that will bear watching closely, and it’s fair to expect to see more from the likes of Dowdle, Davis, and Jones too. There is also undrafted rookie Hunter Luepke, a fullback whose versatility to play both running back and tight end has many excited about his potential.

But this group really is headlined by Pollard, who becomes the most senior member of the team at running back with Ezekiel Elliott now gone. Pollard spoke on Wednesday about how Elliott’s absence has him feeling, along with Pollard’s own growth into a leadership role now.

Not only is Pollard stepping into a leadership role, but his actual role on the field is expected to grow quite a bit too. To that extent, it was encouraging to see Pollard get some work catching passes from Dak Prescott, as he’s expected to have a big role in the passing game this year.

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