Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown on five carries in Saturday's 14-10 preseason win over the Los Angeles Rams, and after the game owner Jerry Jones was asked if Pollard's performances were leverage for the team in negotiations with Ezekiel Elliott, who is holding out.
"Who? Now Zeke who?" Jones responded, joking with reporters.
Jones then looked into the television camera and seemingly addressed Elliott directly, saying, "We're having some fun, not at your expense."
Jones later added that despite Pollard's solid play during the preseason, Elliott would remain a focal point of the offense once—or if—his holdout ends, per Todd Archer of ESPN:
"[Pollard] knows exactly what to do, and he knows how to do it, so it is, he goes out there and he plays to that level. If he continues this through the next several weeks, he's going to be right in the middle of it early, and that will really complement what we're doing with Zeke.
"Not replace that. And I mean that, not replace that. Nobody's getting cute here, but it'll certainly be a great complement. ... I can picture those guys same sets at the same times out there and really giving those defenses fits."
Pollard, a 2019 fourth-round pick out of Memphis, is staking his claim to be the team's backup running back this season. He showed excellent balance and strength on his 14-yard touchdown run:
He wasn't perfect Saturday night, however, missing a blocking assignment early in the game that resulted in quarterback Dak Prescott getting sacked.
"I will say this: that was a critical blitz pickup that got our quarterback killed," Jones told reporters. "Now you got to be able to make that block."
Solid preseason or not, Pollard obviously isn't close to Elliott talent-wise. The fourth-year back led the NFL in rushing in 2018 (1,434 yards) and in 2016 (1,631 yards) and remains one of the game's best. Behind the Cowboys' talented offensive line, his downhill running style has given the offense an identity and has made Prescott's life easier.
Few players are more well-rounded than Elliott, who has also registered 135 receptions for 1,199 yards and six touchdowns in his career. The Cowboys have Super Bowl aspirations this season, and they go away without Elliott, regardless of how effective Pollard looks in the preseason.