Cowboys running back Tony Pollard wants more touches, and he’s willing to line up anywhere to get them.
With Ezekiel Elliott healthy and expected to take on the bulk of the rushing duties in 2022, Pollard said he was instead content with the No. 2 running back, he’s been exploring different roles in Dallas’ offense in order to find new ways to contribute and add more value to his market.
“I’m open to anything just being on the field, being able to make the most of my opportunities,” Pollard said after OTAs on Thursday, via the Dallas Morning NewsGeneral Chat Chat Lounge “If I have to line up in the slot a little more, whatever it takes, I’m ready to do it.”
Pollard had a career year last season, recording career highs in multiple categories as Elliott struggled through a knee injury. But Elliott is now fully recovered and is expected to continue on the majority of the carries, leaving Pollard in a limbo in terms of playing time.
Pollard said he is not looking to replace Elliott in his role, recognizing that his teammate has serious value in the backfield. So in order to get himself on the field as much as possible, Pollard has decided to expand his skillset, working out as a receiver and special teams player in addition to his current role.
Playing as a pass-catcher is not a new language for Pollard, who split his time at college at Memphis rushing and receiving. And his limited opportunities playing in the slot as a pro Pollard has shown he can still keep up, collecting 337 yards receiving in 2021. Between the return of a healthy Elliott and the need to fill in a hole at receiver after trading away Amari Cooper, Pollard could see even more time in the position in 2022.
“You know it’s definitely different, bringing me back to college,” Pollard said. “It just makes things a little easier, being out wide, catching the ball, not having to worry about the defense of the first line, then the linebackers, then the safeties. Once you’re out wide you really just have to beat a guy. , and then it ‘s off to the races from there. “
In addition, Pollard was considered one of the best kickoff returners in his draft class, and he also carried over to his time at Dallas, where he averaged 28.8 yards per kick return last season. So working out as a returner and receiver can only benefit Pollard, giving him more chances to get on the field beyond the traditional running back role.
If Pollard can establish himself as a reliable option at three positions next season, his value will be going up, both in terms of the snaps he’ll get and his market value. Both will be important for the 25-year-old as he enters a contract year and hopes to impress both the Cowboys and the league at large.
“I definitely feel like any opportunity I’m given, I’m going to do my best to make the most of it,” Pollard said. “The more I get, the more I can benefit the team.”
It is going to be seen how many snaps Pollard will see this season and how they will be distributed, but by putting himself in the conversation to play three positions, Pollard will be putting himself in a position to show how valuable he could be as a triple-threat.
“The best is all you can do,” Pollard said. “You’re playing running back, receiver, kick returner, punt returner. It’s just that much closer to replace you.”