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Role Call: Finding A Plan For Ryan Nall


(Editor's Note: The offseason program is in full swing, and it's no longer too early to look ahead. As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 key players who are new to the Cowboys' roster, rookies and veterans alike. The series continues today with running back/fullback Ryan Nall.)

How he got here: These sorts of signings tend to fly under the radar. In early April, after the initial frenzy of free agency, the Cowboys made a small addition to their running back room. Nall is often listed as a fullback, but he has played plenty of running back in his football career. But in the four years since signing in Chicago as an undrafted free agent, he has been asked to expand his role. Across 33 regular season appearances for the Bears, Nall only has 16 career touches, be he was a mainstay on their special teams units. With several key special teamers departing Dallas this offseason, Nall's expertise in that department could come in handy.

What's next: This could be an interesting litmus test for the Cowboys' coaching staff. Mike McCarthy has a bit of a reputation for valuing the fullback role. He employed John Kuhn throughout much of his tenure in Green Bay, helping Kuhn reach three Pro Bowls as a fullback. The Cowboys also made special use of the fullback spot last year, as they famously developed a package for Connor McGovern to serve as a jumbo back. That's where the intrigue comes in. Nall and second-year fullback Nick Ralston are the best, traditional options to play fullback on this roster. But McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore have both shown a willingness to think outside the box, using tight ends like Blake Bell or the obvious example of McGovern instead of carrying a true fullback on the team. For Nall, the goal will be to prove he's worth that extra spot on the running back depth chart. His special teams value in addition to his abilities as a runner and receiver will be the keys to doing that.

Bet you didn't know: The Bears didn't ask him to do it often outside the preseason, but Nall has plenty of experience toting the rock. Across his final two seasons at Oregon State, he took 312 carries and averaged 5.7 yards per attempt. His 2,216 career rushing yards were good enough for ninth-best in Beaver history.

Quotable: "Overall, Nall lacks dynamic traits as a ball carrier to get pro scouts excited and his best chance at sticking on a NFL roster will be as a H-Back if he proves reliable as a catcher/blocker in training camp." – The Athletic Draft Analyst, Dane Brugler, 2018 scouting report.

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