OXNARD, Calif. — Despite suffering a brutal leg injury in the playoff loss to San Francisco just six months ago, running back Tony Pollard was on the field and active on Day 1 of training camp as he prepares to take the reins of the running back room in 2023.
For Pollard, an opportunity lies ahead in his first season as the full-time starter, but he knows it will be a process to get back in all facets.
"Right now I'm feeling pretty good, pretty healthy," Pollard said. "Just being smart with the trainers, not trying to push it. Just trying to ease back into things and just go from there."
With head coach Mike McCarthy set to take over play-calling duties in 2023, Pollard is not only excited about taking on a new role, but also about what that new role will look like in McCarthy's "Texas Coast" offense.
"It's a great feeling knowing that we'll rely heavily on the run game and I'll be the feature back this year," he said. "I'm always looking forward to opportunities. Even going back to college, just making the most out of everything I'm given. This year just being the featured back, I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes."
The running back market has been a hot topic of discussion around the NFL in recent weeks with New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley and Las Vegas Raiders RB Josh Jacobs each holding out upon being franchise-tagged, and Pollard hasn't been an exception to that conversation.
Despite being tagged and not reaching a long-term deal with the Cowboys before the July 17 deadline, Pollard is leaving the past where it belongs and focusing on the opportunity in front of him in hopes of earning that long-term deal in the future.
"At this point, it is what it is," he said. "I signed a tag, I'm here at camp. I'm ready to focus on the main things and stick to winning. Everybody wants to get a deal done, but it was a progress for me. That's how I'm looking at it right now, just trying to be positive about things."
While Pollard did not join the league-wide running back Zoom call orchestrated by Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler last week to discuss the depreciation of the running back market, he does feel strongly about the value of the position and its importance to the game.
"It's very valuable," he said. "Just what we bring to the game, being able to run the ball, pound the ball, catch out of the backfield, being able to block. It's a combination of a lot of different positions in one."
Despite all of the noise, the focus is there for Pollard.
Going into his first season as the starter, he's ready to take on any workload that Dallas asks of him in order to move further towards his goals both on and off the field.
"Whatever they throw at me, I can handle," he said. "I'm ready to go. I'll make the most of it."