FRISCO, Texas — By the time the Dallas Cowboys report to Oxnard, California, in late July for training camp, Pro Bowl running back Tony Pollard said he will be fully ready to practice from the left ankle injury he suffered in the January playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Pollard said he actually feels ready now.
“I would say I’m not really limited at this point,” Pollard said Thursday, adding that he was ahead of schedule. “It’s just being smart with it, just trying to work my way back in slowly and make sure I’m in tip-top shape when I get out there so it’s not a fall off.”
Pollard has taken first-team snaps during walk-through portions of organized team activities. Next week, the Cowboys hold their mandatory minicamp, but he is expected to remain on the same rehab plan.
Two days after the playoff loss, Pollard underwent a TightRope procedure instead of a surgery that required screws into the tibia and fibula for a repair. In the procedure, a braided polyethylene cord, rather than a rigid surgical screw, is applied to restore the original position of the bones and to allow for proper healing. He also suffered a fractured fibula that has healed.
Pollard said he has no concerns about the injury impacting his ability.
“Honestly, I feel faster,” he said. “I mean we got great trainers. Working with [director of rehabilitation Britt Brown] on the bands I don’t know for how many months we’ve been going since the season was over, I just feel like I got a lot of juice in me left.”
Pollard enters his fifth season in a new role as the Cowboys’ lead running back, with Ezekiel Elliott released at the start of the offseason. The Cowboys signed veteran Ronald Jones II in free agency and added Deuce Vaughn in the sixth round of the draft, while also having Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle on the roster.
“For the most part it’s pretty much, I look at it as the same thing, the way I come in for work, day in, day out, give my all, work hard and just let the rest take care of itself,” Pollard said. “But I’m definitely ready for the opportunity.”
Pollard was named to the Pro Bowl after rushing for a career-high 1,007 yards on 193 carries with nine touchdowns. He also caught 39 passes for 371 yards and three touchdowns. Before last season he never had more than 130 carries or 719 rushing yards in a season.
“I would say just being more aggressive in my offseason, training,” Pollard said. “You know really it really wasn’t much of an offseason. I had the injury in the playoffs, surgery two days later and since then I’ve been doing treatment, training, just trying to make sure I’m back ready to go for the season. So just attacking the offseason a little harder.”
The Cowboys placed the $10.09 million franchise tag on Pollard. They have until July 17 to work out a long-term contract or he will play this season on the tag and potentially become an unrestricted free agent afterward.
Pollard isn’t focused on a contract.
“For right now I’m just letting my agent and the ownership handle that and just focus day by day coming in doing what I have to do,” he said.
Pollard said he is focused on proving he can put up bigger numbers in 2023.
“I’m never just satisfied to where I feel like I did enough,” he said. “I feel like every year I can get better. I can improve in different areas in my game and just over time see where it takes me.”