The Dallas Cowboys offense is expected to look different in 2022. Head coach Mike McCarthy lost two of his top four receivers from the 2021 season, but there’s another player on roster who could make up some of that production in running back Tony Pollard.
It isn’t fair to call Pollard the Cowboys’ “receiving back.” Ezekiel Elliott has received more targets in the pass game in each of the last three seasons, and Pollard crossed 200 receiving yards for the first time just last year. This upcoming season could be different, however, as Pollard is seemingly primed to play a much larger role as a receiver. In fact, quarterback Dak Prescott says he could be one of the Cowboys’ best.
“He can get out there and be one of our best pass-catchers, and just the way that he’s grown, just with his route running from the time that we’ve asked him to take on that role is impressive itself,” Prescott said, via ESPN.
While Pollard has recorded just 637 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 46 career games, he has plenty of experience working as a slot receiver from his days at Memphis. In college, he recorded 1,292 receiving yards compared to 941 rushing yards.
“There is a ton of it on film. A lot of it is coming back to him,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said. “I think he does have more than just that. He’s not going to run [just] the running back route tree, the quick game and just kind of the completion plays. He can stretch people vertically, and I think that will be a huge advantage for him to put people in conflict of how they want to handle him.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has maintained that Elliott is still the engine that makes the Cowboys’ offense go, calling him the “feature” last month, and saying this week, “we go as Zeke goes.” These comments come much to the chagrin of Cowboys fans who want Pollard to see more touches. As CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin pointed out in a recent piece, Pollard has out-performed Elliott every season he has been in the league, and has done so by increasingly dramatic margins.
Both players can coexist together, but Pollard may take over more touches in the receiving game. And he’ll be ready.
“It’s definitely coming back to me, getting out there, being more comfortable doing the receiver thing,” Pollard said.