The Dallas Cowboys made significant changes in their running back room this offseason, though when the 2023 season begins, they will be without at least one member of their new backfield. The team will play the first two games without backup running back Ronald Jones, who is getting a two-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, the NFL announced Monday. Jones will still be eligible to practice and play in preseason games.
Dallas' first two games of the season are against the New York Giants and New York Jets. If Jones remains with the team, he will be eligible for their Week 3 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
On Tuesday, Jones told his side of the story. "I just want to say it's something I've been prescribed over the course of my career. It wasn't any steroids. It wasn't anything to enhance my game," Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. "I just want to clear my name in terms of I'm not cheating the game of football."
Jones signed with the Cowboys earlier this offseason. He is expected to be in the mix along with Malik Davis and Deuce Vaughn, behind presumptive starter Tony Pollard, who is finally being thrust into the lead role full time after largely playing second fiddle to Ezekiel Elliott over the past four years.
Asked why the team wouldn't just bring Elliott back into the fold, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy explained, "Well, because of the reps. We're just not going to hit a bump and then give up on the path. We want to see these young guys. I want to see them play in games."
Jones spent the 2022 season with the Kansas City Chiefs, rushing 17 times for 70 yards and a touchdown while also catching one pass for 22 yards. A second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018, Jones spent the first four years of his career in Tampa, eventually winning a Super Bowl with the Bucs a few years ago -- albeit after having fallen behind Leonard Fournette on the depth chart.
If he makes the Cowboys' 53-man roster, Jones figures to be in line for some short-yardage work, given his body type. Still, Dallas has much more invested in Pollard (obviously), and brought in Davis as an undrafted free agent last year and selected Vaughn in the sixth round of this year's draft. It's possible this suspension could push Jones closer to the roster bubble, or even cause the Cowboys to move in a different direction if they want to bring in a veteran to work behind Pollard.