For weeks the Dallas Cowboys appeared to have a plan in place at the running back position: Ezekiel Elliott is the top dog with Tony Pollard getting a steady dose of opportunities alongside him either as a runner or as a pass-catcher. Behind them, third year pro, Rico Dowdle. La fin.
Dowdle has long been a coach’s favorite and special teams standout. The Dallas Cowboys had him penciled in at RB3 all offseason, and given the way the roster is shaping, he represented the last RB on the final roster.
Malik Davis has begged to differ.
Since camp began, Malik Davis has been busy making the case he belongs on the Dallas Cowboys roster. His play in Oxnard was validated through a pair of impressive showings in the preseason, and now the question isn’t just do the Cowboys keep four RBs, but is Rico even ahead of Davis anymore?
The Dallas Cowboys may indicate their intentions with Pollard and Zeke in 2023, by what they do with Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle this season
Tony Pollard is a free agent after this season. After playing second fiddle to Zeke for four years, he’s eager to prove himself as the top dog. Chances of him returning to Dallas in 2023 is slim unless the Cowboys part ways with Zeke.
Zeke has finally reached the point in his contract where his departure would save the Cowboys money. As such, 2022 is seen as a “prove it” season in regards to health and production.
Given the uncertain status of both running backs, there is a possibility either or even both running backs are playing elsewhere in 2023. And chances are, Cowboys brass has a pretty good idea today which direction they’re leaning.
Rico Dowdle is smaller, more explosive type of back. He’s a pass –catcher who operates outside of the tackles better than inside. So as you can tell, he’s more in the image of Pollard than Zeke. Malik Davis, 5-foot-10 210 lbs, is more of a one-cut between-the-tackles runner. He’s not a bruiser but he’s physical by nature. He played his college career in a committee so he’s low mileage and familiar with a group effort at RB.
While neither are the bell-cow type Zeke is, both offer different enough skillsets where they’d fit profiles that reflects the games of Tony Pollard than Ezekiel Elliott. Davis is clearly more Zeke-like while Dowdle looks the part of Pollard.
Since both are neck in neck in camp and preseason, the player the Dallas Cowboys ultimately decide to keep could tip us off to how they see the team in 2023. If Davis is kept, Dallas is probably thinking about severing ties with Zeke. If Dowdle is kept, Pollard could be the man on the way out. If both are kept, the Cowboys are likely open to the departure of both/either veteran RB.
Teams are interested enough in the Cowboys back-up runners that neither would make it back onto the practice squad. Per Bryan Broadus on Love of the Star podcast, Davis specifically has been named as a player teams are watching.
I have two predictions on the matter:
- The Cowboys will find a way to keep both RBs on the roster despite their desire to only keep three RBs.
- Zeke will probably play 2023 season in Dallas to offer stability (2023 will be a major shakeup year on the Cowboys) and Pollard is going to cash in and play elsewhere, having the better career going forward.
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Who do you think the Cowboys will keep this year? Malik David or Rico Dowdle (of both)? Who do you think will be on the roster in 2023?