As the hours tick by, the Dallas Cowboys’ season-opener against the New York Giants gets closer and closer, making it more and more likely that the team will have to play Week 1 without superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott’s holdout for a new contract has lasted more than a month and the NFL’s two-time rushing champ has missed all of training camp and the entire slate of Dallas’ preseason games.
Cowboys Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper has a contract issue looming of his own, currently playing in the last year of his rookie deal. He returned to practice on Monday for the first time in nearly a month after dealing with a foot issue. Cooper spoke after practice on the Cowboys staging their first regular season practice without Zeke present.
“It’s not strange just because we understand the situation,” Cooper told ESPN’s Todd Archer. “We’re adults. We understand this business.”
Offensive tackle La’el Collins also gave his two cents on the running back’s absence and knows he’ll be ready to roll on game day once a deal gets done.
“[Elliott is] not just a teammate, he’s family,” Collins told The Athletic’s Jon Machota. “Having that kinda guy around, that personality, it brings everybody up. I don’t know another guy with as strong a look in his eyes as Zeke. That guy has a different look in his eyes on game day. You feed off that.”
Amari Cooper Feels Good Ahead of Cowboys Opener
Cooper was putting in work on Monday to hopefully be ready to roll against the Giants, but he’s being cautiously optimistic on his status.
“I didn’t feel any pain today. But then again, I didn’t do everything that I’ll do in a game,” he told reporters.
Cooper racked up 725 yards and six touchdowns receiving in just nine games with the Cowboys last season. That included a 217-yard, three touchdown performance against NFC East rival Philadelphia in Week 14.
Cooper recently told Mike Fisher of 105.3 The FAN that he’s played through foot injuries in the past.
“I played with a lot of foot injuries,” Cooper said “High ankle sprains. All those things, so I’m pretty good at playing with foot injuries.
Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott Continue Negotiations
Last year, Elliott had a monster workload, with 304 carries — 43 more than any other player — to go with 77 catches, collecting 2,001 yards from scrimmage. He’s led the league in rushing in two of his three seasons, including last year when he racked up 1,434 yards. His production will be very hard for the Cowboys to replace, no matter how bullish fans are feeling on rookie Tony Pollard.
“Update on Zeke Elliott and the #Cowboys: the two sides communicated in the late afternoon,” Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson tweeted. “Dallas is frustrated with the last exchange. After Saturday’s momentum, Cowboys expected more compromise to get a deal done today. Didn’t happen, so it’s on to Monday and a hopeful reset.”
Jerry Jones has taken an optimistic tone on most occasions when talking about the holdout of his star running back (something he’s not dealing with for the first time). However, the Cowboys owner has said that he expects Zeke to miss Week 1.
“I’m operating as though right now he’s going to miss regular season games,” Jones said via The Athletic’s Jon Machota. “My entire expectation for what we’re putting together as a team right now would anticipate with him holding out … that he’s going to miss games. I just accept that.”