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Mike McCarthy: Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard are “definitely a tandem”

With the start of the Cowboys' 2022 campaign just days away, Mike Florio and Charean Williams discuss what they think Dallas will look like this season with a round of Better, Worse or Same.

In past seasons, the Cowboys have seemingly looked at Ezekiel Elliott as their primary running back with Tony Pollard more of a change-of-pace back.

But entering 2022, that is no longer the case.

In his Wednesday press conference, head coach Mike McCarthy said he sees both of his team’s top backs as capable of handling a full workload.

“Oh I think they both hold their own,” McCarthy said. “I look at both of those guys as No. 1 runners, or however you want to categorize it. Tony can play. I think when you look at running backs — I know how I define them — [it’s about] their ability to play on all three downs, and Zeke and Tony both have that ability. Zeke’s done it his whole career. So I think they’re definitely a tandem and that’s obviously a focal point for us.”

Elliott started all 17 of Dallas’ games in 2021, rushing for 1,002 yards with 10 touchdowns. He also caught 47 passes for 287 yards with two TDs.

Pollard was on the field for just 30 percent of Dallas’ offensive snaps but still registered 719 yards rushing with two touchdowns plus 39 catches for 337 yards. He was third on the team behind Elliott and receiver CeeDee Lamb with 1,056 yards from scrimmage.

While the Cowboys running backs currently work as a tandem, it’s likely the last year Elliott and Pollard will be on the roster together. Elliott’s guaranteed money is up after the 2022 season. A fourth-round pick in 2019, Pollard’s rookie contract is over following the year.