Dallas Cowboys

Tony Pollard stars in Hawaii, prompting Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to joke, ‘Zeke who?’

For the record, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was joking.

He was only kidding.

And he made that clear after poking fun at star running back Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout when referencing the impressive play of rookie RB Tony Pollard, who had 51 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown run, in limited action during a 14-10 win against the Los Angeles Rams at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. It ended a five-game preseason losing streak for his team.

Pollard’s play prompted a question to Jones about whether the emergence of the fourth-round pick was his best negotiating tool with Elliott.

Right on cue, Jones responded with, “Zeke who?”

Jones, laughing, said he was joking.

He then took time to point out a missed block by Pollard that resulted in a sack of quarterback Dak Prescott. But there is no diminishing what Pollard has done so far and what he can bring to the offense in concert with Elliott.

“That was a critical missed blitz pick up and that got our quarterback killed,” Jones said. “He has got to make that block. But what’s amazing is for him to come in here and haven’t done that much and knows exactly what to do and knows how to do it. If he continues this in the next several weeks he is going to be right in the middle of it early.

“That will really complement what we are doing with Zeke. Not replace him. We are not being cute here. But a great complement to have a great running game. I can picture those guys in the same sets at the same time and really giving the defense fits.”

There is still no movement on contract talks with Elliott. He has returned to Dallas from Cabo but plans to return very soon to resume his workouts away from the team.

Meanwhile, Pollard is drawing rave reviews from his teammates and coaches.

“That’s the playmaker, ‘TP Playmaker,’” receiver Michael Gallup said with a smile. “That’s what he’s going to do for us.”

Prescott said Pollard has a natural feel for the game and has been impressive since Day 1.

“It’s no surprise to anything he has done in camp,” Prescott said. “He just comes in, handles his business the right way, wants to learn as much as he can in the pass game and the run game and be a great player for us. He is ready to do that and he is going to contribute any way he can. He is true football player with a great feel for the game.

Said tight end Jason Witten: “You are looking for instinctive guys who can make decisions in split seconds in the run game and pass game. He has a really good feel, a lot of talent and burst. He can put his foot in the ground. But his ability to come in here and understand our system, he is a big time player.

“One of the things I liked about him is this stage isn’t too big for him with Zeke out. I am proud of him.”

To Pollard, he’s simply playing football like he has done all his life.

“It’s just like playing football in the backyard, really,” Pollard said. “It’s just on a bigger level. More people watching now.”

And more people taking note, including Elliott... all kidding aside.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.