FRISCO, Texas – It's strange to think about, but Tony Pollard could be this team's starting running back a week from now.
Ezekiel Elliott's absence has loomed over this training camp since the day it started, but it suddenly feels a lot more real than it did before. The Cowboys will cut their roster down to 53 players on Saturday afternoon, and then it will be time to prepare for the New York Giants.
Has Pollard allowed himself to think about the possibility of starting that game?
"That's not for me to worry about," he said on Monday night. "I'm just coming in being the best back I can be, doing whatever the team needs me to do."
A veteran answer from a rookie. But even if it is a bland answer, it's also true. Pollard has caught a lot of attention since he climbed to the top of the running back depth chart, running for 84 yards and a touchdown across three preseason games.
But if Elliott's holdout continues into the regular season, it's a good guess it won't be just Pollard filling the void. Between the other backs on the roster and the talented offensive line in front of them, it figures to be an effort by committee.
"The O-Line has been doing a good job of opening up holes for us, and I think the backs have been doing a pretty good job of following the scheme and making plays," Pollard said.
Still, it's hard to deny Pollard's impact since training camp opened. He hung back with the second team for roughly the first week of practices, but he's been a de facto starter ever since – even admitting than his role has been larger than he initially expected.
"I'd say I didn't expect as many touches, but I feel like I've been making the most of them," he said.
That qualifies as an understatement. Pollard has easily been one of the stars of this training camp, and not just because one of the Cowboys' biggest stars hasn't been on the field.
And while Pollard might not have expected to do so much, so soon, he said he'll be ready for whatever's next – Elliott or not.
"It's not what I expected coming into this situation, but I always prepare to be ready for whatever," he said. "Since this situation did happen, the way I that I prepare, I guess I was just ready for it and want to continue to make the most of it."