Dallas Cowboys: Will the backup running back please stand up?

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 09: Rod Smith #45 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 09: Rod Smith #45 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys may have star running back, Ezekiel Elliott’s primary backup currently on their roster. But which back is it?

The Dallas Cowboys are a constant hot topic in the cycle of sports media and the biggest topic has been the availability of star running back Ezekiel Elliott. Whatever your opinion on the situation, one thing stood out, the Cowboys need to find a backup for the NFL’s most exciting running back.

There are plenty of options on the roster and as the preseason moves forward the team will evaluate these players accordingly. Players like Rod Smith, Darren McFadden, Ronnie Hillman, and Alfred Morris are all in line to make a push for the spot behind Elliott and the competition appears to be fiercer than previously assumed.

Smith had an excellent showing in the Hall of Fame game against the Arizona Cardinals. He recorded 64 rushing yards on 18 carries but more importantly, he passed the eye test. He could block and has shown great versatility as an offensive weapon.

In plenty of minds Smith jumped ahead of veteran Alfred Morris, he has been able to show the playmaking ability and speed that the older backs on this roster seem to have lost. Morris is still showing his ability to be productive as the Cardinals let him gash them for 25 yards in one play.

Morris finished the game with 42 yards and seven carries and showed a knack for eluding defenders he sorely missed last season. The player who suffered the most is thought to be the presumptive backup, Darren McFadden. He was barely a blip on the radar during the game as he failed to gain 10 yards.

Sure the Cowboys could have been resting a veteran player who is expected to be Zeke’s primary support, but he totaled three carries for negative six yards. He did not seem like the player he was two seasons ago but we should be able to figure out where he stands as the season moves forward.

Hillman barely made an impression but as he is just learning the playbook he will likely need some time before he can fully showcase his abilities. It does appear as if two running backs will not make the cut, Keith Smith and Hillman currently look like the primary candidates but if McFadden indeed has taken a step backward and begins to show his age a trade or outright release before the regular season is entirely possible.

Making the final-53 this year will be a tall task for the depth players at every position but depending on the outcome of the NFL’s investigation into Elliott, the running back position could see some major changes.

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Then again if none of these players show the consistency necessary to be a reliable backup, free agency could be the place to look. Teams will begin to cut players as the preseason heats up and the Dallas Cowboys could decide to bring an outside player in if they are the right fit.