If Rico Dowdle stays healthy, he’s finally going to show what he can do.
One of the stars of training camp and the preseason has been fourth-year running back Rico Dowdle as the South Carolina product has started to take command of a heated RB2 battle that has been one of the preseason storylines.
Head coach Mike McCarthy has offered praise for Dowdle throughout training camp, but after his performance against Seattle on Saturday night that featured him accounting for 47 total yards and one receiving touchdown along with having big moments in pass protection, the praise from McCarthy has begun to break out into a sermon.
“I’ve been impressed with Rico since the first year,” McCarthy said. “I love his running style. He runs angry. He pass-protects with a lot of urgency. He sticks his nose in there.”
“I think I made the most of the opportunities that I got,” Dowdle said postgame on Saturday. “It’s always room for improvement, another week to grow. Like I’ve said, this is the biggest opportunity for me since I’ve been here.”
Tony Pollard, Deuce Vaughn and Rico Dowdle are virtual locks to make the roster in 2023. Based on their preseason play, they appear to have pass protection and pass catching roles in hand to a large degree. But short yardage is another story.
The durability and effectiveness of Elliott’s 6-foot, 228-pound frame cannot be understated. It’s something the 209-pound Pollard, the 215-pound Dowdle, and the 176-pound Vaughn will be hard pressed to replace.
Elliott’s 231 carries marked a career-low for him in 2022. They can conceivably be absorbed by all three previously mentioned options without much of an issue. But Elliott’s 64 conversions (first down runs + touchdown runs) may not be quite so simple to reproduce.
When training camp first opened up, the hope was someone like Hunter Luepke could take on the post as the short-yardage specialist. Visions of John Kuhn danced in the heads of many, sparking an abnormal level of hype for a standard UDFA.
As camp and the preseason unfolded, Luepke’s odds of making the final 53 have seemingly declined. He has struggled to make a major impression in any capacity and appears to be on the outside looking in at the moment.
Ranking all 32 RB1s heading into the 2023 NFL season: Saquon Barkley not a top-five running back? - Maurice Jones-Drew, NFL.com
Tony Pollard ranking. Too low, too high?
Dallas Cowboys · Year 5
2022 stats: 16 games | 193 att | 1,007 rush yds | 5.2 ypc | 9 rush TDs | 39 rec | 371 rec yds | 3 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
For the first time since 2015, the Cowboys’ RB1 is not named Ezekiel Elliott. The team released Zeke this offseason after watching Pollard thrive in an elevated role last season. Pollard has always been an efficient rusher, but showed he can still be that type of back when tasked with nearly 200 carries. After all, he had the fewest totes (193) by any 1,000-yard running back in 2022. Pollard should fully establish himself as The Guy in Dallas’ backfield this year — and also grow as a dynamic pass catcher in Mike McCarthy’s offense.
Things should look different for the Cowboys offense this year, but will it look better?
Dallas Cowboys Coach Mike McCarthy said he may hold some rookies out of the team’s final preseason game Saturday after a pair of players suffered season-ending knee injuries last weekend.
That’s just one of many decisions McCarthy will have to make as he prepares for a season in which he’ll call all the plays on offense.
Analysts and many fans think he needs to at least get close to that feat here in Dallas, or he risks becoming the Cowboys’ former coach.
“You know, I think it just depends on how it goes. But I think you are right. I think the bottom line is if there’s not an advancement to the NFC title game, I think there’s gonna be… the noise gets louder around McCarthy,” said George Dunham on Sports Radio 96.7 FM and 1310 AM The Ticket.
Why Cowboys need rookie DT Mazi Smith to overcome preseason growing pains - Clark Dalton, Yardbarker
The Mazi Smith issue won’t be answered until actual games.
While Cowboys rookie defensive tackle Mazi Smith hasn’t looked like a bust, the first-round pick (No. 26 overall) hasn’t amazed either.
“Given his draft status, Smith has been one of the most polarizing rookies,” wrote The Athletic’s Saad Yousuf. “His play has warranted that sort of dialogue, as he’s been mostly mediocre throughout camp, not terrible but not great, either.”
Nonetheless, head coach Mike McCarthy isn’t giving up on the rookie.
“You look at the way he graded out [against the Seahawks], and there’s some plays he’ll definitely learn from,” the HC recently said, via Yousuf. ”But you got to remember, he’s still a first-year player. I think when you look at his camp, he’s had a good to solid camp. This week will be another opportunity for him.”
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