Cowboys Tout New Running Back as Viable Ezekiel Elliott Replacement

Getty New Cowboys running back Ronald Jones.

The Dallas Cowboys are confident that Ronald Jones can fill the void left behind by Ezekiel Elliott’s departure, despite his recent rough run.

The signing of Jones this offseason wasn’t overly celebrated, with the USC product coming off a season with the Kansas City Chiefs where he rushed for just 70 yards on 17 carries during the regular season. He’s even been mentioned as a potential cut candidate. But the Cowboys see Jones being a contributor behind Tony Pollard, with some additional upside at just 25 years old.

“He’s an NFL quality back,” Cowboys’ vice president of player personnel Will McClay said. “His run style fits what we do. He’s young enough to continue to grow and add something to us. And, again, we’re adding an experienced back that knows what it’s like in the NFL, that fits the system well, and he’s got some upside to be able to be a three-down back and some of those things.”

Jones is a two-time Super Bowl champ, winning a pair of titles with the Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was much more integral during the Bucs run, finishing the year as their leading rusher. Jones’ best year was in 2020 when he rushed for 978 yards and seven touchdowns with a 5.1 yard per carry average.

Jones is excited to be a contributor with the the Cowboys and sees big-time potential for the squad.

“Just seeing the run they made last year,” Jones said after signing. “Being one game away from being a step to the Super Bowl — I think they’re right there at the hump and, hopefully, I can be a part that helps them get over that hump.”

Cowboys Haven’t Shut Door on Ezekiel Elliott

Jones is a good option to have behind Pollard but the Cowboys have not completely slammed the door on bringing Elliott back at a lower salary for next season.

By parting ways with Elliott, the Cowboys saved nearly $11 million against the cap. The big number combined with Elliott’s drop in production made it a logical decision. The former rushing leader is coming off a year where he ran for a career-low 876 yards. Elliott did find the end zone a dozen times but he managed just 3.8 yards per carry.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has left the door open on a potential Elliott return, which he expressed after the draft once again.

“Ship has not sailed,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters Saturday night when asked about a reunion, via the team website. “We haven’t made a decision. We’ve obviously drafted a running back, a little different style than Zeke, but it doesn’t change. …For us, as far as our interest in Zeke, nothing we did today changes that.”

Cowboys Build RB Depth With Deuce Vaughn

Deuce Vaughn

GettyFormer Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn stiff-arms a defender in 2022.

The Cowboys added another piece to their running back room with Deuce Vaughn, who was selected in the sixth round of thd draft. At 5-foot-5, Vaughn isn’t the type of runner Elliott or Jones are but is expected to add a different element to the offense.

“I think Deuce can be a matchup nightmare out of the backfield,” Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson said on NFL Total Access. “A lot of people are comparing him to Darren Sproles, who was one of the best ever out of the backfield running routes, creating mismatches. I see Deuce Vaughn in the same light.”

Vaughn ran for 1,558 yards last season at Kansas State and 1,404 as a junior. He had 34 touchdowns in his college career and an outstanding average of 5.5 yards per carry.

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