FRISCO, Texas – When it comes to running back room, it’s crystal-clear who the Dallas Cowboys have penciled in at No. 1 and No. 2. Things were unclear in training camp to determine who was leading the charge. No. 3 — namely, Rico Dowdle — but rookie running back Malik Davis has found ways to fumble in the final preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Davis, an undrafted free agent signed in April, has put together an impressive streak over the past few weeks in camp, and the attributes regularly displayed in team practices are spilling over into the scrimmage and, most importantly, preseason games.
His success raises a very poignant question as the Cowboys work to trim their roster before the Aug. 30 deadline: Is Dallas open to carrying four running backs on their active roster?
Dowdle entered camp healthy and completely recovered from a hip injury that would have cost him a very promising 2021 season, and he showed no signs of missing a step — practice, scrimmage or game — and running back. Coach Skip Peete cast his early vote for RB3 in early August; But it left the door open for Davis and Aaron Champlin to find a way to enter the conversation.
“They’re all challenging [RB3’s] role,” Peete said in Oxnard. “But if we have to play a game tomorrow? Rico has really shown that he’s matured and has a full understanding of what we’re doing. If you’d asked me two years ago, I probably would have said, wide open.
“But, right now, I think the ability to be here and understand what we’re doing puts him a little bit further away from those other guys — he’s got six months versus two months. Those two other guys are just so talented, too. The way they play the system. It’s been very, very impressive and I’m not going to put anything in front of people who challenge anybody.”
Pete’s words seemed prophetic considering what Davis did in his first two NFL preseason games. A quick comparison to Dowdle’s numbers (and Shampklin’s too) makes the point perfectly clear, so let’s put all three Cowboys halfbacks side-by-side.