Dallas Cowboys Camp Confidential: Depth at running back

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Ezekiel Elliott
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Ezekiel Elliott /

While the position is flush with depth, it may be tested due to off-field issues. Today we explore how this position could shape up for the Dallas Cowboys.

Normally, you would feel ecstatic about your stable of running backs if it looked like the Dallas Cowboys depth chart.  Your running back won the league rushing title as a rookie the previous year.  You also have not one, but two backups with 1,000+ yard seasons on their resume as well.

Unfortunately, the team and its fans have every reason to feel anxious about the availability atop the depth chart.  This is especially true when the main man can’t seem to get out of his own way off the field..

There is no doubt that the Dallas Cowboys employ one of the three best running backs in football. There is serious doubt as to whether he’ll be available for all sixteen games, however.

It’s bad enough to be under investigation for a domestic violence issue from your days in college.  Adding other red flags during this process is playing with fire.  Issues such as pulling down a woman’s top at a St. Patrick’s Day gathering, visiting a marijuana shop or being around fights at the club all seem nit-picky at best.  That is, until, you have so many little things all at once.

So, as the 2017 training camp is underway in sunny California, there is somewhat of a cloud hanging over the team. Will Ezekiel Elliott be available to start the season? If not, how many games does he miss?

Thankfully, the Cowboys have a better backup plan than most of the league can boast.

If Elliott misses any games, Dallas has two veterans that have gained over 1,000 yards multiple times in their careers to step up. Darren McFadden, who as recently as 2015, was a top-five rusher on a team with no quarterback, is next on the depth chart. Alfred Morris, who himself, once had a very impressive rookie season is also in tow.

Beyond those two, the Cowboys have the recently signed Ronnie Hillman to pick up some slack as well. Lastly, Cowboys all-purpose player Rod Smith has started out camp on fire and possibly moving himself up the depth chart.

Of these options, McFadden is certainly the most intriguing when healthy. Run DMC still has the burst that made him a top five pick almost a decade ago.

Even though Morris has looked better in camp so far, the back up and possible short-term starting gig is McFadden’s to lose.

The addition of Hillman is intriguing as he almost duplicates everything McFadden brings to the table.  I suspect his presence is for insurance purposes in case Elliott is suspended and if Smith fails to impress.

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Ultimately, there will be a time when King Ezekiel is leading this team in all the necessary rushing statistics.  The Dallas Cowboys just hope he will get to start amassing them in Week One.  If not, the depth of this position may be enough to buy them some time.