It has been the offseason of Ezekiel Elliott with glowing reports surrounding the Dallas Cowboys running back. Elliott looks to be in phenomenal shape, but Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy indicated they want to manage Elliott’s carries this season, hinting at Tony Pollard getting a solid number of touches.
“Well, I think at this point, you’ve got to be conscientious of it [Elliott’s workload] because when you look at a player like Zeke, because of what he’s done at the level, the volume that he’s done early in his year,” McCarthy told reporters. “I think you have to be cognizant of the long road. I’ve always viewed training camp and particularly early season football, now the last place I worked we were very young in our personnel philosophy.
“So, there was always a bigger gap between our younger players and older players. So, we played younger players early all the time, and as a coach, it takes a while to get used to that. But the point I’m making is by November, December those young guys were able to contribute. So, we got Tony Pollard, Rico’s [Dowdle] looked really good. Sewo [Olonilua] is off to a good camp. So, you have some younger guys that can play and produce. It’s not necessary for Zeke to run the ball 25 times, 30 times a game. The most important thing is when you get into December, January football, you want him to be in top form to be able to run the ball 25, 30 times [per game] if needed. So, that’s the way I’ve always viewed it, particularly at that position.”
McCarthy also added that the Cowboys could utilize more two-back sets this season. Pollard has proved to be particularly effective in the passing game. Those looking to draft Elliott for their fantasy team may not like to hear this, but the Cowboys are hoping the running back can be more efficient if he does receive fewer carries.
Zeke Averaged a Career-Low 16.2 Carries per Game Last Season
Elliott averaged 16.2 carries per game last season, the lowest of his career. On the high end, Elliott averaged 21.4 rushes per contest during his rookie season in 2016. He is clearly the Cowboys’ RB1, but Tony Pollard has flashed in his two NFL seasons in Dallas.
Pollard averaged 6.3 carries per game last season for 435 yards, and it will be worth watching to see if he will see an uptick in touches in 2021. Pollard indicated all the running backs are rooting for each other’s success.
“He’s definitely been locked in,” Pollard noted, per USA Today. “I can tell he took the right steps forward this offseason, getting his body right, getting in shape. Me and him, we also worked out together a lot of times during the offseason. We both are locked in this offseason, getting ready.
“…Our whole goal here is to win it all. If you’re not doing that, you’re falling short. That means there’s room for improvement all around.”
Zeke: ‘I’m Ready to Experience Some Highs This Year’
Elliott was not pleased with his production last season as the running back made it a point to slim down this summer in an effort to regain some of his quickness. The Cowboys running back noted there is a reason to be optimistic about his production this season.
“You’ve got to experience the lows to enjoy the highs,” Elliott said, per ESPN’s Todd Archer. “I definitely had some lows last year, so I am ready to experience some highs this year.”