OXNARD, Calif. — Another day has passed and the running back picture behind Tony Pollard has somehow gotten even murkier with the suspension of Ronald Jones.
However, the group behind Pollard – which includes Malik Davis, Rico Dowdle, Jones, Deuce Vaughn and Hunter Luepke – has competed fiercely through one week of camp and they brought the physicality on day one in pads on Monday.
Despite uncertainty still following the group, head coach Mike McCarthy took the time on
Monday morning to give praise to two young guys in the room that have taken a step forward so far in training camp.
"I'll tell you, I'm loving Rico [Dowdle]," McCarthy said. "And it's great to have him back. Malik [Davis] has taken that jump that we're looking for. Those two guys have really jumped out."
In catching up with Dowdle after Monday's practice, the fourth-year South Carolina product was encouraged to hear that his boss had good words for him today, but he knows it will all be about staying consistent throughout camp and the preseason.
"Just want to stay on the right track and stay on that good side of him," Dowdle said with a laugh. "Keep doing what the coaches like me doing. Hard work and just try to win a spot. But obviously, that's nice hearing that from Coach McCarthy."
Coming into training camp, Dowdle has been able to grow a close bond with the running back room, but he knows the mission is to compete with them in California in order to earn his main goal in 2023 which is to be the number-two back behind Pollard.
"All of us come out here and compete," he said. "With good competition, I think it's only gonna make us all better. Whoever ends up not here, they would still be better. My goal is to obviously go out there and win it. I want to be the number-two guy. It's the biggest opportunity I've had here since I've been here, so just come out here and work everyday."
A hip injury sustained in the preseason of 2021 and an ankle injury suffered five games into the 2022 season has made Dowdle's journey with the Cowboys a bit rocky, but he's looking to make the most of his extra opportunity in 2023 now that he's fully healthy.
"Right now, I'm just playing a lot faster than last year at this time at the beginning of training camp," he said. "Just out there playing fast and staying on top of everything. Making sure I'm coming out here and I'm fresh. Taking care of my body after the practices and making sure I'm staying healthy."
Dowdle sees the opportunity ahead of him, but he also sees what could happen if he does not end up winning the job.
The NFL has a way of reminding players of how things can change on a dime, and he's out to prove that he can wade through those waters when adversity comes ashore.
"I went undrafted and had to come in with no summer camp, no preseason in my rookie year and earn a spot," he said. "It's the NFL and everyone is here for a reason. You have to earn it and compete for it every year."