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Icon Sportswire / Contributor

The good news for the Dallas Cowboys is their defense is on the verge of being as whole as it's been all season, with defensive starters Neville Gallimore and Randy Gregory both trending toward returning from injury in the coming Week 14 battle against the rival Washington Football Team. The bad news is they're now dealing with injuries at a key position on offense, with two-time NFL rushing champ Ezekiel Elliott clearly hobbled by a knee ailment. While they hope the mini-bye week has helped him, they've discovered it hasn't done much for dynamic backup Tony Pollard.

Pollard missed practice Wednesday with a foot injury, and while sources tell CBS Sports the Cowboys aren't concerned it'll be a long-term issue, it does put his availability for this coming Sunday in question (the next couple of days will be key for Pollard). So with Elliott less than 100% and Pollard now in the same boat, the Cowboys signed former fourth-round pick Ito Smith to the team's practice squad this week.

That gives them added depth alongside backups Corey Clement and JaQuan Hardy, the only other healthy running backs in the building when considering Rico Dowdle and [fullback] Sewo Olonilua are both on season-ending injured reserve.

Ito Smith
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Smith, a former fourth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2018, entered the NFL under the tutelage of Dan Quinn -- a pre-existing relationship that led to the two reuniting in Dallas in 2021, albeit now on different sides of the ball. After spending his first three seasons with the Falcons, Smith went on to have short stays with the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings before again becoming a free agent earlier this season. Under Quinn in Atlanta, he produced 689 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, along with 314 receiving yards, averaging 4.4 yards per touch in the process.

He gives the Cowboys some needed and experienced depth ahead of a pivotal NFC East matchup, and after their questionable handling of Elliott's injury to this point. The All-Pro made it clear this week his knee is progressing and that the Cowboys would have to "drag me off of the field," which is less likely now that Pollard has an issue as well, so signing Smith was a no-brainer.

Follow along on the CBS Sports app and get the latest insights from Patrik Walker, who's on the ground in Dallas. Plus, get the latest Dak Prescott news and much more from our team of experts. If you already have the app, you need to set the Cowboys as your favorite team for up-to-the-second news and analysis.