To be the best, you have to beat the best.
That isn’t just the plan — it’s the preference.
“I hope he does show up,” Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree said Monday, ahead of the Week 1 rivalry game, per the Dallas Morning News. “I hope he gets what he wants to get. In order to be the best, you have to play everybody that’s the best, and he’s one of the best in the league.”
From a personal standpoint, Ogletree’s missive is admirable. Victory tastes a whole lot sweeter when there are no excuses, buts, or what-ifs associated with it.
From a professional standpoint, Elliott missing Sunday’s regular season-opener would greatly benefit New York, who have been installed as seven-point road underdogs. Checks aren’t fun to write when your butt can’t cash them.
Elliott has consistently found success against the NFC East foe, rushing for 78 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in the Cowboys’ first of two wins over the Giants last year (he didn’t play in the second). Elliott burned the G-Men in the 2017 opener, logging 104 yards on 24 totes, and hit the century mark against them as a rookie in 2016, rushing 24 times for 107 yards in a Week 14 loss.
Should Elliott’s holdout rage into Sunday, and Ogletree does not get his wish, the Cowboys would start rookie RB Tony Pollard, another back capable of exploiting what was the NFL’s 12th-worst run defense last season.
“He’s had an impact as a rookie,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said, via the New York Daily News. “We actually liked him during the draft. We had him on our board in a prominent position. But he’s done a good job. He’s fast, has got really good instincts, good collision balance, he can catch the ball. So he’s got what you’re looking for in a runner. And it appears from what I’ve seen on tape and from what they’re saying that they’re really fond of what he’s done.”
Word to the wise to the visitors: The grass ain’t always greener.
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Teammates Support Zeke Despite Absence
Just because he hasn’t been around The Star for well over a month, Elliott didn’t lose any respect in the locker room. Several Cowboys stars came to his defense Monday, claiming his standoff with the organization hasn’t damaged Dallas’ chances to contend nor created awkward tension between the band of brothers — all grown-ups, an important distinction.
“It’s not strange just because we understand the situation,” wide receiver Amari Cooper told ESPN’s Todd Archer. “We’re adults. We understand this business.”
“[Elliott is] not just a teammate, he’s family,” offensive tackle La’El 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.”
Cowboys Cut LB Before Opener
In an expected procedural move, Dallas released former starting linebacker Rolando McClain, who was conditionally reinstated by the league after flaming out in 2016 due to repeated substance abuse issues.
Dallas technically owned McClain’s rights upon his reinstatement, which becomes official Tuesday and likely is contingent on McClain keeping his nose clean — figuratively and literally — from here on. The 30-year-old will immediately revert to unrestricted free agency, able to sign with any team.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL