Dallas Cowboys have another potential threat in the passing game

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Tony Pollard is another potential passing weapon for the Dallas Cowboys.

Between Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, there’s no shortage of talented receivers on the Dallas Cowboys roster. Add Blake Jarwin and Ezekiel Elliott into the mix and Dak Prescott has an arsenal of weapons at his disposal. But let’s not forget about another legitimate threat out of the backfield: Tony Pollard.

Pollard had a very solid rookie season behind Elliott, rushing for 455 yards and two touchdowns on just 86 carries. But if there’s one area I can see improvement for the second-year running back, it’s in the passing game.

Remember, Pollard was primarily used as a receiver while at Memphis, averaging over 30 receptions per season and 12.4 yards per catch in his college career. He was a dynamic playmaker in the Memphis Tigers offense, capable of rushing the ball (6.8 yards per carry career average) or catching it out of the backfield.

In his rookie season in the NFL, Pollard accounted for 15 receptions on 20 targets for the season. He had 107 receiving yards and one touchdown. These are all numbers that will hopefully be improved upon in his sophomore season.

Pollard’s biggest disadvantage is that he’s behind one of the best running backs in the league in Ezekiel Elliott. His opportunities are limited. Pollard played in 204 snaps last season, accounting for roughly 18 percent of snaps taken. His 86 carries accounted for about 19 percent of the team’s overall rushing attempts.

His 20 targets, however, were just three percent of the overall team’s passing game. This is a number that can certainly be improved upon in his second season.  And despite the acquisition of CeeDee Lamb in the NFL Draft, the Cowboys shouldn’t ignore what Pollard can bring to the offense, especially the passing game.

He’s a versatile threat and provides Dak Prescott with a solid safety net. If the play falls apart, Prescott can look to check down to Pollard who has proven pass-catching capabilities.

His potential this season has been likened to that of Ty Montgomery. When playing for the Green Bay Packers under Mike McCarthy, who is now the head coach for the Dallas Cowboys, Montgomery was a dangerous threat in the passing game. In the 2016 season, he caught 44 passes for 348 yards. Can Pollard achieve the same?

We know the Cowboys like throwing to their running backs. Last season, Elliott caught 54 passes on 72 targets (13% team targets). If Pollard can earn more playing time, and he should — ESPN’s Todd Archer suggests he could see snaps at receiver — then he’ll provide another solid option for Prescott to throw to.

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As talented as the Cowboys trio of receivers is, we all know there are those games where they seemingly can’t get open. On those weeks where Cooper, Gallup or even Lamb seem to disappear, Pollard could emerge as the playmaking x-factor.