Cowboys RB’s knee scope causes more concern further down depth chart
There are a lot of questions up in the air when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys‘ running back department. Allegedly, Ezekiel Elliott is the healthiest he’s been in a while (something we hear practically every year) and prepared to play much better in 2022. Tony Pollard is open to playing wide receiver. And, Cowboys RB3 Rico Dowdle has now missed a good chunk of offseason programming due to a knee scope procedure.
So, where on Earth does this leave the running part of the offense? We’d all like to believe that Elliott will be the player he was three years ago, but there’s certainly no guarantee, despite what his teammates are saying. If Pollard is taking snaps as a slot receiver, that will lessen his ability to execute rushing attempts. Right now, we have no idea if or when Dowdle will make a full recovery.
Last year, Dowdle was sidelined for the entire year after fracturing his hip in the third preseason game for Dallas. After that happened, the front office went out and signed veteran and former Eagle Corey Clement. Given the Cowboys have yet to re-sign Clement this offseason or add any new RB talent, what is the real plan?
When Michael Gehlken first reported about Dowdle’s knee scope procedure a few weeks ago, the running back was expected to make a full recovery by training. According to Sports Illustrated’s Mike Fisher, Dowdle will still be out for mandatory minicamps, which begin today. That will seriously hurt his ability to compete with Elliott, Pollard, and outshine UDFAs and other deep depth players for a spot on the roster.
What does Cowboys RB3 Rico Dowdle missing offseason programming due to a knee scope mean for the depth chart?
In 2020 (his rookie season), Dowdle’s special teams and kickoff returning skills helped him participate in 15 games. He certainly showed potential, but his progress was hampered due to injuries the next year. The Cowboys need him to get healthy again so that he has a chance to not only compete for a spot, but ultimately, provide much-needed depth on this roster.
There aren’t many viable options aside from Dowdle behind Pollard and Elliott. Hard Knocks fan-favorite JaQuan Hardy (the current listed RB4 on the depth chart) had only four total rushing attempts in all of 2021. UDFAs Malik Davis from Florida and Aaron Shampklin from Harvard have also been present at OTAs, but who knows if they will prove themselves enough to still be around when training camp comes.
The only other viable option is recently added fullback Ryan Nall who does have limited reps and college experience at running back. However, it’s unknown whether the Cowboys want to use a fullback in their scheme this year.
All in all, with a full recovery for Dowdle in question and their assumed lack of interest in Clement, the running back corps has quickly become another area of concern for Dallas heading into training camp. If Pollard takes a role in helping fill in for Michael Gallup’s absence with the receiver corps, the Cowboys may have to rely on Dowdle to pick up the pieces. Right now, we can’t say if he will even be healthy enough to do so, let alone capable enough.