Stingy NFL rule could give Cowboys' Deuce Vaughn final chance to prove himself

Sep 17, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Deuce Vaughn (42) reacts after
Sep 17, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Deuce Vaughn (42) reacts after / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys usage of their running backs against the Miami Dolphins last week after Tony Pollard failed to find the end zone on what seemed like a walk-in touchdown and Hunter Luepke fumbled a handoff on the very next play.

That led fans to question why Rico Dowdle wasn't used instead. Dowdle's had success in short-yardage situations this season and he scored a scrappy touchdown against the Seahawks on a goal-line carry where he had to fight through a mountain of bodies.

Perhaps Dowdle's ankle injury was to blame. He's been nursing the injury for multiple weeks and only logged two carries against the Dolphins. This was after he only touched the ball five times in Buffalo the previous week.

With the bigger picture in mind, Dowdle was ruled out for Saturday's showdown against the Detroit Lions. This begs the question of whom the Cowboys will ride as RB2 behind Pollard. Might Deuce Vaughn be in consideration?

Could Cowboys' Deuce Vaughn make his return to action vs Lions?

Dowdle's absence puts the Cowboys in a pickle. In previous weeks, they could simply promote Malik Davis from the practice squad and call it a day.

However, Davis has already been called up three times, which is the maximum permitted by the NFL during the season. He hasn't received a carry, but has been involved on special teams when active. Practice squad elevations reset for the playoffs, but Davis could only play Saturday if Dallas signs him to the active roster.

That would require another player to be waived. We're not sure the Cowboys want to expose somebody to waivers, which gives them two options: roll with Lupeke as Pollard's backup, which was essentially the case against the Dolphins, or promote Vaughn to add a playmaking punch to the backfield.

The Cowboys have carried three backs on the game day roster all season. That number climbed to four the last two weeks with Davis joining Pollard, the hobbled Dowdle and Luepke. That gives Vaughn a puncher's chance of getting called up for Saturday, if nothing else but for injury insurance behind Pollard and Luepke, who surely isn't in the coaching staff's good graces after his costly goal line fumble last week.

There's always a chance Vaughn gets some run in the Week 18 finale if the Cowboys don't need to win, but this weekend could be the fan favorite rookie's last chance to prove himself in a competitive, must-win environment.

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