The Dallas Cowboys‘ running backs are going to continue to be a topic of conversation as we march into 2022. Following a breakout season from Tony Pollard and a campaign where Ezekiel Elliott battled through a torn PCL, many are calling for more touches for the former entering this upcoming season. However, Jerry Jones is still calling Zeke their “feature.”
In speaking with NFL Network at training camp on Saturday, the Cowboys owner said that Elliott should be the focus of what the offense is about.
“We gotta have Tony Pollard out there. No, seriously, Zeke’s gotta be our feature, and he is our feature,” Jones said, via NFL.com. “We can feature him in a lot of different ways. We all recognize what he does in the passing game because of his protection ability. Don’t ever underestimate that especially with Zeke. Zeke takes some tolls when he’s out there as a back blocking. So it’s critical that we make Zeke — because he’s capable of being that — really the focus of what we’re doing. Now then, Pollard, there’s plenty of room for Pollard. There’s plenty of room for Pollard when Zeke’s in there. Pollard needs to get the ball.”
Elliott averaged a career-low 58.9 rushing yards per game in 2021, but did score 12 touchdowns. He admitted this week that he started to lose a step — especially with his burst — as the season wore on. As for Pollard, it’s expected that his offensive role will increase in 2022, but it’s not something that has to directly affect Elliott — which is what Jones said. The fourth-year back out of Memphis took reps at receiver during minicamp and could see more work out wide.
It’s possible both running backs could be focal points on offense this season. Tony Romo said earlier this offseason on “Maggie and Perloff” that we could see a shift in philosophy with the Cowboys offense getting back to the ground game in 2022. In 2016 and 2017, the Cowboys finished with the No. 2 rushing offense in the league. Last season, they were No. 9 in rushing yards per game, and the year before, No. 17. It sounds like Jones wants to get back to running the ball as well.