SAN DIEGO - Jamize Olawale is not the prototypical running back. In fact, Olawale wasn’t a running back at all two weeks ago.
The Cowboys gave Olawale a shot at running back after injuries to Phillip Tanner (hand) and Lance Dunbar (hamstring) left them short at the position. He never looked back, posting a game-high in rushing yards for the second straight week and scoring the first Cowboys touchdown of the preseason against San Diego.
Olawale was a wide receiver at North Texas and a fullback at the beginning of training camp, yet the versatile athlete’s ticket to making the team might not be at either position. He rushed for 30 yards Saturday and 42 yards against Oakland in the preseason opener.
“Before training camp, we had a little rookie pre-training camp,” Olawale said. “One of the running backs went down, so I stepped in at running back and figured maybe every now and then they might give me some carries. But this is a blessing.”
He pounded two 2-yard carries on first-and-goal in the second quarter Saturday, the second of which crossed the goal line to give the Cowboys a 10-0 lead.
“That was nice, but at the end of the day we didn’t win, and that’s the most important thing," Olawale said. "That touchdown doesn’t seem like much when you lose the game. That’s all I really care about.”
Olawale’s time as a former wide receiver has also helped him in the backfield. He dropped a pass for the second straight week, but he also caught four passes for another 30 yards, displaying an uncanny burst for a 6-1, 238-pound player head coach Jason Garrett referred to as a “fullback candidate” when he came to camp.
“He’s played fullback, but also showed that he can be a big back,” Garrett said. “He’s played a lot as a halfback. He’s played in third down situations. He’s really done some good things running the football for us.”
Despite his quick success in the backfield, Olawale said he still has things to work on, including slowing the game down, finding holes, reading blocks and running lower.
Any shortcomings are understandable as Olawale learns a new position in the backfield. He said he’s grateful for the opportunity and knows not everyone gets a shot, especially when it’s with the first-team offense.
“When the coach calls your number, you’ve got to step up,” Olawale said. “That’s all I did.”