Cowboys running back Tony Pollard missed Tuesday’s practice with what the team termed an ankle injury. It’s unclear when Pollard was hurt as he wasn’t listed on Monday’s practice report; he got in a full session.
Rotoworld.com’s blurb on Pollard stated that he suffered a knee injury while running a route in last week’s loss to the Buffalo Bills. It’s possible his malady is related to the knee and ankle injuries he sustained in Week 5.
Head coach Jason Garrett failed to mention Pollard in his pre-practice press conference.
The team’s fourth-round draft pick has been a regular-season afterthought in an offense dominated by Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, converting 58 carries into 264 yards and a touchdown across 12 appearances. He’s added 12 receptions for 90 yards and a TD.
Pollard, however, was sensational during the preseason, taking hold of the RB1 job while Elliott campaigned for a new contract in Mexico. He rushed for 84 yards and a score on just 15 attempts, averaging a sterling 5.6 yards per carry and prompting the now-infamous “Zeke who?” quip from owner Jerry Jones.
Pollard is considered an elite handcuff to Elliott, who’s embraced — rather than shun — his talented understudy.
“I want to help (Tony Pollard) become the best RB he can be,” he said in September, per The Athletic. “It doesn’t matter that we might be competing for playing time or anything. I want him to become the best back he can be. It’s definitely rewarding seeing him go out there and have the day he had today.”
Pollard’s status should be updated when Dallas releases its final practice report Wednesday ahead of its Thursday night road clash with the Chicago Bears.
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If Pollard cannot go Thursday, the Cowboys will need to make a roster move, as he’s the lone backup behind Elliott and fullback Jamize Olawale. In this scenario, they likely would promote rookie seventh-rounder Mike Weber Jr. from the practice squad to the 53-man active roster.
Weber was among a three-headed committee employed amid the exhibition period to pull weight with Elliott out of the country. He handled 22 totes for 54 yards in four games, chipping in five catches for 28 yards.
No matter who’s in the Cowboys’ backfield, it could be a long day at the office against Chicago, who own the NFL’s seventh-best run defense, surrendering 97.5 yards per game. Just two RBs — Oakland’s Josh Jacobs and New Orleans’ Latavius Murray — have crossed the century mark on the Bears’ stifling front-seven.
Jerry Jones Bashes ‘Frustrating’ Cowboys Rushing Offense
Of all the things to criticize about the Cowboys, owner Jerry Jones has honed in on the surprisingly sluggish ground attack. He didn’t shell out $90 million for Elliott to only rank sixth in the NFL in rushing, nor for the Cowboys as a team to only average 127.6 yards per game.
“We’re not quite obviously consistently taking the thing that we are the best at and running that down the other team’s throat,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday, via ESPN’s Ed Werder. “We’re not doing that. We can do that, and that’s frustrating.”
As Werder notes, the problem is systematic. Elliott is averaging the fewest attempts per game — 18.9 — of his four-year NFL tenure, which has included two rushing titles and a pair of Pro Bowl selections. He’s also compiling his worst yards-per-game average (82.5) as a pro.
Elliott tied a season-low with just 12 carries in last week’s loss to the Buffalo Bills. It was his fourth straight game under 100 yards, something that hasn’t happened since 2013, when he was a true freshman at Ohio State, according to NFL Research.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL