By Chad Lesher
Rod Smith is not a household name so the average fan assumes that the RB roster lineup will be 21, 20 and 46. I believe that Zeke and McFadden are definitely locks but I think that is the only certainty for the running backs. If you believe that the Cowboys will carry a fullback (and I believe they will), then three running backs on the active roster is all you can do. Rod Smith did some good things to help himself to make the 53-man roster.
His biggest competition is Alfred Morris and now Ronnie Hillman. Morris had a nice game last night averaging 6 yards per carry for a total of 42 yards. Morris did not have any receiving yards. Comparatively speaking, Rod Smith had 64 yards and averaged 3.6 yards per carry. His yards per carry were impacted by some short yardage situations. He also had a few big runs called back due to penalties. Rod also had 3 catches for 25 yards. Rod even said it was the most action he has seen in a game “since high school.” Coach Garrett commented, “We wanted to give the bulk of the snaps at running back to Rod,” Garrett said. “He got a lot of snaps, he got a lot of carries in the game. I thought he handled himself well.”
Each of these running backs bring something to the table. The existing Cowboys coaching staff and management loves position flexibility. So, with that in mind, the same mindset will be applied to these running backs. Zeke is everything you want in a running back (except maybe some more maturity). McFadden is your 1st and 2nd down back that fills in case Zeke is suspended or injured. Ronnie Hillman was brought in as a possible Dunbar replacement but I think that is a luxury the Cowboys won’t be able to afford. Alfred Morris, despite a nice run or two on Thursday night, just doesn’t have it anymore. He’s not the same back he was a rookie or in Year Two in Washington. Rod Smith is a former fullback and at 6-3, 240 lbs., he is exactly what you want in a 3rd down and short yardage back. If you don’t keep Keith Smith at fullback or if he gets injured, Rod can fill that role too. Rod is also cheaper and younger than Morris and also can play a solid special teams role.
Rod can’t be your every down back but we have guys to fill that role. He is going to get a lot of looks in Preseason Game #2 and #5 to cement his spot on the roster. I think when the Giants come to town, he will be suiting up. Will Zeke? Well, that will be known soon enough.
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