As the Dallas Cowboys figure out how to handle the situation at wide receiver, they’re “tutoring” one of their weapons amid position change rumors.
For the better part of the offseason, Cowboys media members and fans have been discussing how to get running back Tony Pollard more touches. The fourth-year RB is coming off his best season yet, totaling 719 rushing yards as the Cowboys’ No. 2.
The additions of wide receiver James Washington in free agency and WR Jalen Tolbert in the third round of the NFL draft, the talk around Pollard taking reps at receiver has quieted down. But after Washington suffering a foot fracture, the conversation is back on with a Dallas Morning News report that Pollard is being tutored at slot receiver.
According to DMS insider Michael Gehlken, offensive assistant coach Kyle Valero has been consistently working on reps at slot receiver with Pollard.
“Offensive quality control coach Kyle Valero has been privately tutoring Pollard on the slot position, preparing him for potential responsibilities to complement his primary role in the backfield,” Gehlken wrote on August 10. “Increased slot work for Pollard can clear a path for him and running back Ezekiel Elliott to share the field more in 2022.”
Getting Pollard more touches only makes sense, as the former Memphis Tiger has proven himself to be one of the Cowboys’ most dynamic offensive options.
ALL the latest Dallas Cowboys news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Cowboys newsletter here!
Pollard’s Thoughts on Work at Slot
Not every NFL player wants to be a “swiss army knife,” and they shouldn’t be. Some athletes have versatile toolsets, some have specific toolsets. Count Pollard as one of the former.
In Gehlken’s writeup, Pollard provides a quote on what he and Valero discuss when they’re working on his slot receiver reps.
“Just details like route-running, getting in and out of breaks, why we’re running certain plays and what’s the meaning behind them,” Pollard explained. “We’re getting into the depth of why we’re doing the things that we’re doing, so it will make more sense in the big picture… In the offseason, during the season, it’s not going unnoticed. Guys are noticing the things that I can do with the ball to help the team, just knowing that I can contribute more and more to the team.”
Pollard knows this season is important to his next contract, but he also understands that putting in more work at wide receiver means he is giving the Cowboys the best chance to win.
Pollard Growing as a Receiver
Not only was 2021 the best rushing production Dallas has seen from Pollard, it was also another tick up in his effectiveness as a pass-catcher. Pro Football Reference shows that the 25-year-old brought down 39 receptions for 337 yards, both career highs.
What’s even more impressive is his yards after catch stat. The Cowboys RB actually had more yards after the catch than receiving yards in total, going for 341 yards after making a reception. (That is possible due to Pollard making a catch behind the line of scrimmage, but picking up yards on the ground before passing the line of scrimmage.)
Pollard has had seven drops over the past two seasons, which isn’t ideal, but that’s where this tutoring and additional work should help.
Dallas needs two things: Pollard has to have a bigger and more important role in 2022, and the team has to figure out how best to maximize the passing game. Pollard getting more teaching and reps is a commitment to doing that.