Let’s start with what this column is not. It’s not a slam piece on Deuce Vaughn.
The Dallas Cowboys electric rookie is a phenomenal story and has been a must-see in the second half of both preseason games. He was a must-watch in college at Kansas State, too.
It’s hard not to cheer for a running back who is 5 feet, 5 inches playing in a league of giants. It’s the same reason many loved Maurice Jones-Drew (5-7) and Darren Sproles (5-6). And yet, Vaughn is smaller than both of those former Pro Bowlers.
But it’s gotten to a point where Vaughn is almost being overhyped by the media, particularly those on the Cowboys’ beat. And in the process they seem to overlook the stellar preseason another Dallas running back is having.
Rico Dowdle is the Cowboys' RB2, not Deuce Vaughn.
Rico Dowdle has been the team’s most complete back in both preseason games. His lone mistake, a fumble near the goal line against Jacksonville, is a mistake that’s easy to correct. And he shouldn't receive so much of the blame for it anyway.
Defenders are taught to attack the ball. If you watch the replay, Dowdle had that ball high and tight. The Jaguars did well to punch it out.
The stats back up these claims about Dowdle, but those don’t matter that much in preseason. It’s not hard to see Dowdle’s blend of size and explosiveness. He’s the team’s best option for short-yardage and goal line packages, can catch the ball fluidly and attacks blitzers when asked to block in the backfield.
Dowdle can become a key figure on third downs if he’s able to help with pass protection, allowing Tony Pollard or Vaughn to slip into the slot and put more of the Cowboys’ best playmakers on the field.
And if Pollard goes down with an injury, it’s Dowdle, not Vaughn, who profiles as the team’s starting running back.
So, for all the Dallas media asking questions about whether the coaching staff will risk injury to Vaughn and hold him out of the final preseason game, Dowdle deserves the same consideration. And maybe even more so.
With all due respect to Vaughn, Dowdle is the Cowboys’ RB2 and will figure more heavily into the offensive game plan.
Both players can flourish in the offense. Dowdle just figures to see more work when Tony Pollard needs a breather and on passing downs when Dallas wants extra protection for Dak Prescott. No reason to pit one RB against the other.