Cowboys see Tony Pollard as more than “gadget guy”

AP

The Cowboys like their draft, of course, as all teams do. But there is one player in particular they can’t wait to see on the field.

Memphis running back Tony Pollard, the Cowboys’ fourth-round choice, will contribute right away on special teams as a kick returner. But the team also sees him as the primary backup to Ezekiel Elliott, and the Cowboys disagree with the idea that Pollard is a “gadget” player.

“I know people think he’s going to be this gadget guy,” Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown said. “He’s more than that. He’s bigger than what you think he is and he runs powerful for a guy you think is a gadget guy. I think he can do all our runs and more.”

The Cowboys tried that with Lance Dunbar, but he could never stay healthy. They traded for Tavon Austin a year ago with the idea of giving him 12 touches a game as a “web” back.

Austin was injured most of the season, but the Cowboys got him only two touches per game in the seven games he did play. Austin played 16 offensive snaps a game in the games he played.

Rod Smith got only nine offensive snaps and three touches per game as Elliott’s backup last season. The Cowboys expect to use Pollard more in hopes of keeping Elliott fresh.

Pollard scored 25 touchdowns in college as a runner, receiver, and returner, showing his versatility.

“Change-of-pace back can be however you take it,” Pollard said. “The way I look at it is a guy coming in with a lot of speed being able to make the long home-run plays, also being able to run in between some tackles and get some hard yards and being able to make plays on special teams.”

The Cowboys have visions of using Pollard the way the Saints used Alvin Kamara as a rookie.

“Me and him are similar in ways that we play,” Pollard said. “Just being able to do more than one thing, line up in the backfield as a running back, mismatches with the linebackers, running routes out of the backfield, making plays on special teams.”