With free agency and the NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, the Dallas Cowboys now look forward to OTAs and training camp leading up to the start of the 2018 season. With that in mind, I will be breaking down the roster by position. Today we will take a look at the running backs.
The Dallas Cowboys 2018 game plan will be a simple one, run, run, and run some more. The player that Dallas will lean on the most is Ezekiel Elliott. In two seasons with the Cowboys Elliott has been on the field for 26 games and Dallas is 19-7 in those games. He has rushed for 2,739 yards and 22 touchdowns. Elliott has also added 58 receptions for 632 yards and three touchdowns. If the Cowboys are going to find their way into the playoffs it will likely be because Ezekiel Elliott carries them there, both literally and figuratively.
As long as Elliott is healthy and stays out of trouble there will not be many carries for any other back. When Elliott does need an occasional rest, the most likely candidate to relieve him will be Rod Smith. When Elliott was suspended for six games last season it was Rod Smith who filled the void. He proved that he can be a capable backup. The coaching staff trusts Smith and he could be a valuable player for Dallas, especially if Zeke misses any time.
Smith could have some competition for carries in 2018 in the form of rookie Bo Scarbrough. Dallas used a 7th round pick on Scarbrough in last months draft. He is an intimidating presence standing at 6”2, 235 pounds. In his final two seasons at Alabama, Bo rushed for 1,408 yards and 19 touchdowns. Scarbrough is a downhill runner that looks to punish defenses. I believe the place that Scarborough can thrive is in short yardage and goal-line situations. He is going to be just too big and powerful for defenses to handle.
The final running back is Tavon Austin. Dallas traded a 6th round draft pick to the Los Angeles Rams to acquire Austin. Throughout his career, Austin has played both wide receiver and running back. Dallas has said they plan to use Austin the same way they used Lance Dunbar. I have very little faith that the Cowboys coaching staff will be creative enough to get much out of Austin. The main reason is that arguably the best offensive mind in the NFL, Sean McVay coached him last season and didn’t get great results. However, at the very least, Austin can return kicks and punts for the Cowboys. Even if that’s all he does it will be worth the 6th rounder they gave up to get him.
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