The Cowboys returned to the field for OTAs last week. This week, however, they did a little experimenting with running back Tony Pollard.
Head coach Mike McCarthy held a press conference on Thursday and dropped a little nugget to the media. Due to several wide receivers being absent, Pollard took reps at the position.
“We have a few guys with nicks,” McCarthy said. “Our numbers are down. We had a couple of guys who were under the weather with allergies. But it’s also to give us the opportunity to rep those concepts with Tony.”
The fact that so many guys were out may be the only reason the Cowboys put Pollard at receiver, but it makes all the sense in the world. During his collegiate days at Memphis, Pollard caught 104 passes for 1,292 yards and nine touchdowns. In the NFL, he’s hauled in 43 passes for 300 yards on 60 targets.
McCarthy spoke about how Tony Pollard looked being spread out wide.
“It gives us the opportunity to rep those concepts with Tony that we didn’t do a whole lot of last year,” McCarthy said. “He’s natural. He looks very natural. Tony’s an exceptional athlete, looks very comfortable in the space alignments and assignments that we ask him to do. Dan Quinn’s treating him as a receiver, so I think that tells you how he looks.”
Pollard lined up at wide receiver for 51 snaps in 2020 (36 outside, 15 in the slot). McCarthy mentioned that putting Pollard at wide receiver is a part of a plan to get guys acclimated to playing in multiple spots.
“We’ve been making a conscious effort to make sure the receivers play all four positions on offense: inside, outside, the 3 spot, the 3 by 1,” McCarthy said.
Being the backup to Ezekiel Elliott limits Pollard’s snaps on game day. The idea of getting him on the field with Elliott at the same time should be something the Cowboys look into more in 2021 and allow the third-year stud to get more touches.