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Mailbag: Who will pick up short-yardage gains?


I am yet not convinced that we have that third-and-2, fourth-and-1 running back on the roster. Are we sure that Rico Dowdle or Malik Davis can do the job?Elgin Lewis/Houston, TX

Nick Eatman: I think you're forgetting someone that will probably handle most of the fourth-and-1 situations. It might not be ideal, but it's pretty close to unstoppable. Dak Prescott already has the ball and he's obviously close to the line already and one of the biggest guys at his position. He can get the yard you need. Not sure about two yards. To me, Tony Pollard's quickness to the hole might be just as advantageous as it is to get a big, strong guy. I think it'll be a combination of different people getting these short-yardage carries but Rico Dowdle is in the mix. Who knows, Deuce Vaughn might even be asked to pick up some yards like that, too. Sure he's not the biggest by any means, but by the time the defense can locate him, he might have the first down and more. It doesn't look like it's going to be just one guy that handles this job. 

Kurt Daniels: There's been a lot of concern about who will replace Ezekiel Elliott in short-yardage situations, but I think there are three things we should consider. First, was it Zeke doing all that work or actually the offensive line? If the big boys up front do their job and get that initial push, then who is running behind them is less of a factor. And assuming they're healthy, the Cowboys should have a standout offensive line. Secondly, Elliott was 6-0, 228. Rico Dowdle is 6-0, 215. It's not like he's considerably smaller than Zeke, and he's shown some power in his running during the preseason, including picking up the first down with a 2-yard run up the middle on a fourth-and-1 at the Jacksonville 19-yard line. Dallas then scored on the next snap. Nice work. Finally, don't forget about Tony Pollard. While he wasn't used much on fourth down last year, he actually saw 14 carries on third down with 3 or less yards to go. He averaged 6.1 yards on those attempts with 10 first downs. Obviously, a different defensive situation, but still. Don't think Pollard can't get the job done, especially if the offensive line is doing theirs.

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