At least in a couple of areas, the Dallas Cowboys could have a vastly improved special teams unit that includes more big pays and better field position.
The Dallas Cowboys have endured modest gains in terms of special teams lately. Aside from the sudden change at placekicker late last summer, the return game in both kickoffs and punts has been average at best.
This could – and should – change in a big way in 2019.
We’ll talk about wide receiver Tavon Austin shorlty, but one of the most visible and talked about dynamics entering the Dallas Cowboys roster as of now is Memphis running back Tony Pollard, the third selection for America’s Team chosen No. 128 in the 2019 NFL Draft last month.
Between those two players just mentioned, there should be no shortage of excitement and enthusiasm for the Dallas Cowboys special teams unit this season.
Gone are the reliable, yet modest, fair catches from Cole Beasley, who’s taken his talents to the Buffalo Bills to play out the remainder of his career in NFL exile.
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Now, there’s a realistic opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys to play from behind, ahead or from anywhere in between with the likes of Austin and Pollard returning the football.
According to NFL.com, Beasley’s longest punt return in Dallas was 22 yards back in 2015. In the five seasons he fielded at least some punts, he never accumulated as much as 70 yards in return yardage in a season.
The same source tells us Austin, who entered the league a year after Beasley, has totaled over 350 yards in punt returns twice and over 250 yards in two other seasons. Even more encouraging is that he returned a single punt for a touchdown in each of his first three seasons. The video shows he came close to his fourth last year in the wildcard playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks – a punt return for a touchdown was called back earlier in that game.
With Austin, anything can happen when he touches the ball and if he can play more than the seven games he suited up for with the Cowboys last season, he should be a factor returning punts.
As kickoffs are becoming extinct in the NFL, it’s hard to project how Pollard will fare as he tries to continue the skillset that made him such a standout at Memphis. Pollard recorded seven kickoffs for touchdowns and was a repeat Special Teams Player of the Year-winner in the American Athletic Conference. Here’s another player who can make anything happen when he touches the ball and the Dallas Cowboys haven’t exactly had an abundance of these types of players in recent years.
It’s true Pollard will probably make his biggest splashes out of the backfield while backing up Ezekiel Elliott, but this is only because the NFL keeps taking baby steps each year towards just ditching the pads in favor of flags in order to prevent injuries.
Regardless, the Dallas Cowboys look to have a high-powered offense next season while also having the chance to have a defense that’s better-than-advertised entering training camp. But what could be the difference-maker is the impact Austin and Pollard have in the kicking game that could make the special teams of the Dallas Cowboys – well, special.
- Published on 05/14/2019 at 11:01 AM
- Last updated at 05/14/2019 at 09:26 AM