The Cowboys have a number of depth chart battles to deal with heading into the 2023 season, including a left guard starting role that we touched on earlier this month. Another battle they’re currently dealing with, according to Jon Machota of The Athletic, is the backup running back gig.
Tony Pollard returns as the obvious starter at running back in Dallas. He’ll finally get a chance to take on a lion’s share of the teams carries after spending the first four years of his career splitting touches with Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys are now tasked with figuring out who will be the primary backup taking snaps behind Pollard.
One of the favorites for the job is second year back Malik Davis. As an undrafted rookie out of Florida, Davis appeared in 12 games last season, carrying the ball 38 times for 161 yards and a touchdown and catching six passes for 63 yards. He was the only running back not named Pollard or Elliott to contribute to the Cowboys’ offense last year, giving him the advantage of experience in Dallas’s system.
In order to earn the role, Davis will have to fight off offseason additions Ronald Jones and Deuce Vaughn. Jones is the most experienced of the three after winning Super Bowl rings with both the Buccaneers and the Chiefs. He has plenty of experience in both of his previous situations dealing with the demands of a backup running back, as well. Jones brings the experience of adapting to a new system from last year but still will need to catch up to Davis’s current familiarity with the team. Vaughn is coming off two stellar seasons at Kansas State and brings a different element to the game with his style and stature. He will have to quickly adjust to the NFL-level of play, though, in order to sneak past Davis and Jones on the depth chart.
Here are a few other rumors coming out of Texas:
- With Dalton Schultz now in Houston, the Cowboys will also have to figure out who takes the first snaps at tight end. They’re likely to utilize a number of tight ends in different situations, but right now, second year tight end Jake Ferguson is the favorite to start, according to Machota. The former fourth-round pick started eight games as a rookie and has the most experience playing in the Cowboys’ system. This year’s second-round rookie Luke Schoonmaker is sure to push Ferguson for playing time at some point, but currently, he’s still dealing with a plantar fascia issue that’s kept him from pushing for the top of the depth chart.
- After a disappointing rookie season for last year’s third-round receiver Jalen Tolbert that saw him only appear in eight games and make two catches for 12 yards, the Cowboys are hoping for much more in Year 2. The team reportedly had enough confidence in the South Alabama product that they considered drafting him in the second round last year, according to Machota. Tolbert will have every opportunity to win the WR4 job in Dallas.