The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Denver Broncos 17-7 on Saturday in what can only be called a subpar effort in the Mile High City.
Both media and fans ridiculed the team as the Cowboys had penalty problems all day, and the team's new No. 2 option at wide receiver, third-round draft pick Jalen Tolbert, had a lackluster performance.
With the injury situation in the receiver's room - Michael Gallup and James Washington will not be ready to start the season, though Gallup on Thursday showed major progress in his rehab - the Cowboys may need to get creative with the roster.
Dallas has openly admitted there have been internal discussions about outside help at receiver. There are plenty of outside options to sign, with Emmanuel Sanders, Will Fuller, TY Hilton, Cole Beasley, and Odell Beckham Jr. all being names that have been tossed around.
However, Dallas may already have the answer on the roster ... and in the backfield.
Running back Tony Pollard has been extremely efficient for Dallas not just in the run game, but also as a receiver. Pollard had 39 catches last season for Dallas, with a respectable 8.6 yards per reception.
Addressing the media earlier this month, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore discussed the possibility of expanding that receiving role for Pollard.
"At Memphis that really was his primary position, at slot receiver. And then he would kind of go into the backfield, that was his secondary role.... he's not going to just run the running back route tree. ... he can stretch people vertically," Moore said.
But then won't the Cowboys be short at running back?
One of the few bright spots against the Broncos was Dallas' rushing attack. Ezekiel Elliott and Pollard were on the sideline and didn't play, but the trio of Malik Davis, Rico Dowdle, and Aaron Shampklin ran the ball 24 times for 119 yards. Quarterbacks Ben DiNucci and Cooper Rush added another four carries for 22 yards.
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Maybe the brightest spot of all was undrafted Florida rookie Davis. With 51 yards on eight carries, he averaged 6.4 yards per attempt, an improvement over what the Cowboys have posted over the last few seasons.
Granted, it's preseason, but for a player attempting to make the 53-man roster, it all starts with an impressive performance in exhibition play.
There is still plenty of work to be done for Davis before he claims the third running back roster spot, but he's off to a good start. And the Cowboys have had success in the past with Florida running backs.
Equally impressive on Saturday for Davis, was his receiving prowess. He led the team with three catches for 16 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per reception. And he seemed elusive to the Broncos defense just about every time he touched the ball.
Oh, and in Thursday's joint work at the Chargers, Davis did it again ...
And at the same time, Pollard was lining up more as a true wide receiver in practice, afterward saying that he needs to get more comfortably in synch with QB Dak Prescott, “but other than that, we’re looking good.”
If Pollard is to be more involved in the passing attack on a regular basis, Davis might be the answer in the backfield. And based on his performance on Saturday, Cowboys fans should be OK with that.
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