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Mailbag: Will Zeke's Pass Protection Be Missed? 

20230122 DAL Dak Prescott88
22 January 2023: Dak Prescott (4) of the Dallas Cowboys during their NFL divisional round playoff 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Is it just me or is Ezekiel Elliott's great pass protection going to be missed? Tony Pollard really seemed to struggle with it last year. Any concerns that this running back group can help keep the pocket clean?LT/Silverdale, WA

Nick Harris: I think Mike McCarthy said it best when he said that it will be tough to "replace" what Ezekiel Elliott brought to the offense, and pass protection was probably the biggest part of making that statement. The current group won't be able to replace what Elliott brought in that department, simple and plain. However, there are a handful of capable pass blockers in that room that are eager for that opportunity. Ronald Jones' wide set could allow for that opportunity, Tony Pollard is improving in that area, Deuce Vaughn has his way of just being a nuisance in pass blocking and Hunter Luepke is chomping at the bit to find a consistent role in the offense early on. I don't think the biggest challenge will be finding that guy, though. I think it will be disguising that guy in the offense once he is identified by the staff so that it's not a clear giveaway that Dallas will be passing pre-snap. In essence, don't wish for a pass protecting running back. Wish for a running back pass protector.

Mickey: Yes, it is of some concern and another reason why I would not have a problem if the Cowboys could re-sign Zeke for a modest base salary with incentives. The obvious choice to take on that responsibility would be to use the veteran Ronald Jones in nickel offense situations. Rico Dowdle and Malik Davis don't have much experience picking up a blitzing defender, and if you remember Davis missed a key pickup in that playoff loss to San Francisco. Better coach 'em up LT.

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