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Cowboys countdown to kickoff: #20 Tony Pollard

The Dallas Cowboys face the New York Giants in Week 1. And we’re counting down to it by jersey numbers.

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

We’re continuing our countdown to the opening game of the Dallas Cowboys 2023 regular season. Each day we’ll present a new player whose jersey number represents the countdown to opening day. Today is number 20.

RB Tony Pollard
Born: 30th April 1997 (26) - Memphis, Tennessee
College: Memphis Tigers
Draft: 2019, Round 4, Pick 128, Dallas Cowboys

2022 Stats:
Snaps: 627 (49%)
Rush Attempts: 193
Rush Yards: 1,007
Receptions: 39
Receiving Yards: 371
Drops: 1
Touchdowns: 12
Penalties: 0

Tony Pollard accepted a scholarship at his local university, the University of Memphis in 2015. He redshirted his freshman year, but the year after he appeared in all 13 games as both a running back and receiver. He finished the year with 31 rush attempts for 159 yards and one rushing touchdown. While as a receiver he made 29 receptions for 298 yards and two receiving touchdowns. He also had two punt returns for touchdowns and was named the American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year.

The next season Pollard had 36 receptions for 536 yards and 30 carries for 230 yards with a total of six touchdowns. He was again named the American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year.

In 2018, Pollard had 78 carries for 552 yards, 39 receptions for 458 yards and scored ten touchdowns with one coming off a kickoff return.

Pollard left Memphis tying an FBS record for kickoff-return touchdowns (7). He also made 87 kickoff returns (second in school history), 2,616 kickoff return yards (second in school history) and had 4,680 all-purpose yards (second in school history).

Cowboys Review:
Pollard had a fairly quiet start to his Cowboys career. Mostly due to the fact the Cowboys had an elite star running back in Ezekiel Elliott. So that resulted in Pollard being used very sparingly in those first three years. There were flashes of his talents in that time. He scored two electrifying touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers in 2020, and also helped the team to victories against the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants in 2021.

But it wasn’t until last year that everyone got to see Pollard in an extensive role and how he could handle much more of a workload. He and Zeke split the duties from the backfield and Pollard played so well he earned his first Pro Bowl nomination. Not only did Pollard have his first 1,000 rush-yard season, he also had 371 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns and was named the Ground Player of the Week after scoring three rushing touchdowns against the Chicago Bears.

Last season, Pollard outrushed Zeke in yards, was fourth on the team in receiving and earned a higher blocking grade than Zeke. The end result made the front office move on from Zeke given his production, and then give Pollard the franchise tag.

2023 Roster Projection:
The teams running back depth chart at RB1 seems pretty obvious. The franchise tag tells us the Cowboys want more Pollard, and they want plenty of him this year. Given that Pollard was only given a true workload last year means he has plenty of tread on those tires. Given his age the team will also want to give as much of the carries they can offer to Pollard. Under the new offensive scheme from Mike McCarthy, and given that Pollard is also a very able receiver, we can expect to see Pollard get a variety of looks out the backfield. This is something we’ve already seen plenty of during training camp. He will take time off the field, so it will be interesting to see who the rotation players are behind him.

2023 Projected Stats:
Snaps: 922
Rush Attempts: 280
Rush Yards: 1,341
Receptions: 51
Receiving Yards: 433
Touchdowns: 16

The Big Question:
Is Tony Pollard with the team next season? Answer in the comments.

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