We thought wrong; the club greatly values its options behind the Pro Bowl running back and his hyped sophomore understudy. As if carrying a third RB (undrafted rookie Rico Dowdle) on the 53-man roster and retaining another (fullback Sewo Olonilua) on the practice squad wasn’t enough, a former NFL starter is likely to enter the fold.
Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that the Cowboys “plan” to add former Jets, Browns, and Chiefs RB Elijah McGuire to the practice squad.
McGuire (and offensive tackle Eric Smith, a second PS target) is subject to the requisite COVID-19 testing — and must return consecutive negative results — before his signing can become official, filling the final spot on the team’s 2020 taxi squad.
Cowboys plan to sign former Jets and Chiefs RB Elijah McGuire to practice squad, source said. Not officially done but "working on it." Like with OT Eric Smith, McGuire's signing is subject to COVID-19 testing and physical. Team's practice squad is full, pending these steps. pic.twitter.com/2aUVjoZrpk
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 6, 2020
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Background on McGuire
A fourth-year pro, McGuire totaled 180 carries for 591 yards (3.3 YPC) and four touchdowns across 24 career games (five starts) for the New York Jets, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2017. He chipped in 36 receptions for 370 yards and two scores. He was released at final cuts last year and temporarily latched onto Cleveland’s practice team.
Following his release from the Browns, McGuire landed on the Chiefs’ PS where he remained for the duration of their Super Bowl-capturing campaign. He was re-signed this past February and cut on Saturday when Kansas City reduced its roster to 53 players.
McGuire played collegiately at Louisiana, finishing with 5,695 yards from scrimmage (4,301 rushing, 1,394 receiving) and 52 total TDs across 51 games. Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller compared the versatile 5-foot-10, 214-pound back to ex-Patriots star Shane Vereen.
Elijah McGuire was a highly productive player in college, rushing for over 1,000 yards in three straight seasons and 42 touchdowns over his career. He is at his best creating matchup issues in the passing game. He has a developed route tree, and he can break linebackers down in space and run routes down the field. He has soft hands, catching the ball away from his body, with a good catch radius and the ability to catch through contact. He is a solid blocker in pass protection, taking on defenders and delivering good cut blocks. With his lateral quickness, he is a dangerous runner in the open field, and while he lacks superior leg drive, he runs with great effort as he fights for every yard.
Fit in Dallas
It’s a curious destination for the 26-year-old, who would garner little offensive usage even if he was promoted to the active roster. What scraps Elliott leaves behind will be devoured by Pollard, and Dowdle, who won over coaches with his work ethic, has dibs after that.
McGuire, assuming he sticks around, will function as the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option for Dallas, infusing veteran experience into a mostly young RB room. The key word there? “Assuming.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL