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15) What's the Backup RB Picture Behind Pollard?


(Editor's Note: Over the next month, the staff of is looking to answer the 20 biggest questions facing the team heading into the 2023 season. Today, the staff writers continue the series with a closer look at the backup running back spot.)

Patrik Walker: Blurry, but not because there's a lack of talent. Instead, the picture is unclear because there's so many different types of talent. Ronald Jones was brought in to be the definitive short-yardage guy but Deuce Vaughn has some of that ability as well, along with the shiftiness and versatility to hit the home run ball. Malik Davis showed he deserves a shot as a well-rounded back but Rico Dowdle had Davis' number before injury in 2022, and he's back for more this summer. Then there's Hunter Luepke, who can perform slot WR duty as well. Right now, it's a free-for-all.

Kyle Youmans: This may be the most underrated question of the offseason. With Pollard coming off his ancle injury in January, the presence of a capable secondary running back will be crucial. The early thought is Malik Davis will be the favorite to take the most snaps in training camp to start, mostly because he appeared capable down the stretch last season. However, he has some challengers with the return of Rico Dowdle and addition of Ronald Jones and Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn, being a draft pick, will get a considerable load to start camp and chances to show his skillset. Dowdle and Jones will each face an uphill battle to make the roster and will need to flash early to have a chance.

Nick Harris: There's a strong argument to be made that the RB2 situation is the biggest question mark on the offensive side of the ball going into 2023. Ronald Jones was brought in to provide the wide-body, short-yardage presence while Deuce Vaughn was drafted to add an additional layer of explosiveness from the backfield. While also counting in Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle who have each gotten a substantial amount of RB1 reps while Pollard rehabs from his leg injury, and there's a large group ready to contribute. Consider my prediction as a "by committee" effort behind Pollard in 2023.

Mickey Spagnola: Pretty fuzzy right now and won't come into focus until training camp and having played some preseason games. Sure like what the little we got to see of undrafted rookie Malik Davis last year. Rico Dowdle still is an unknown since he spent 12 of the 17 games last year on IR. Now watch out for sixth-rounder Deuce Vaughn to carve out himself a spot on this team. But here we are Fourth of July and Ezekiel Elliott still is without a job, so not dismissing the veteran back still working out mornings in Dak's backyard returning to the Cowboys on an incentive-laced deal if he wants to return. And if nothing else, Ronald Jones gives them a veteran presence as insurance.

20 Questions Series:

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