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Offseason | 2024

Cowboys to deploy RB-by-committee for 2024 season 


FRISCO, Texas — How many different types of punches can the Dallas Cowboys throw from the running back position in 2024, considering their depth chart heading into OTAs currently resembles a character select screen from a fighting game?

Ezekiel Elliott has reunited with the Dallas Cowboys for the 2024 season, yes, and he does so to presumably take the lead role in a young room of running backs that lost his former tag team partner, Tony Pollard, to the Tennessee Titans in free agency.

Elliott reported to voluntary conditioning wearing his familiar No. 21 before migrating to No. 15 for his next chapter with the Cowboys, but the jersey is the only thing that's changed, as described by head coach Mike McCarthy.

"It's as natural of a transition that you'll ever see," said McCarthy. "He walked in and he had that unbelievable smile. It's like he never left. Huge personality in the locker room. … But some things have changed for him as well — like protection systems — so he has some new learning, but it's great to have him back."

With Rico Dowdle coming off of a career season and having also re-signed on a one-year deal, the current depth chart elevates Dowdle to the role of RB2 — that is if you're thinking of it in the traditional sense. McCarthy isn't, however, instead preparing for a group approach.

When asked if he believes the two-time former NFL rushing champ can return to that form, McCarthy said it wouldn't be "fair" to ask or expect Elliott to suddenly become the 2016-ish version of himself again.

And, also, that isn't the plan anyway.

"We're running back by committee," McCarthy explained. "But I think he'll definitely play at the level that he's played, I know, in my time here. I anticipate that. I don't see any drop off in the way he moves. He's in good shape.

"…He's come in here, and he's picked up right where he left off."

Also speaking from 2024 rookie minicamp, where lone [sabre]wolf, first-year running back Nathaniel Peat, took 100 percent of the reps at the position, executive vice president and director of player personnel Stephen Jones agrees with McCarthy's preview — also noting there's still a chance the RBs depth chart isn't finished adding talent.

"Certainly, the way we're looking right now," Jones said of the RB-by-committee approach. "A lot of teams do that and do it successfully. A lot of teams have moved toward that because of the wear and tear that comes with this league. We're not done yet, [though].

"We'll continue to look at players and ways to improve, not only the running back spot, but any other position on this team."

Elliott joins Royce Freeman as the two recent veteran additions at running back in Dallas, while Peat covers the opposite end of that spectrum as a rookie, and all three join Hunter Luepke, Deuce Vaughn, Malik Davis and Snoop Conner to form a stable of bodies being thrown at the position by the Cowboys.

How this all shakes out is anyone's guess, outside of what feels like an obvious one-two punch from Elliott and Dowdle, though that might be more of an ultra combo before it's all said-and-done.

It all depends on which back has the right killer instinct.

Plus, truth be told, this version of the Cowboys is running out of continues.

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