It may be a few weeks before the Dallas Cowboys feed Zeke.
NFL Network’s Jane Slater reports that Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will see 20-25 snaps in Sunday’s season-opener against the New York Giants — the direct result of his 40-day holdout from team activities, which ended Wednesday with a record-setting million extension.
The remainder of Dallas’ backfield snaps versus Big Blue will be divvied up between rookie Tony Pollard and, possibly, veteran Alfred Morris.
“Ahead of Ezekiel Elliott’s first team practice since June, I’m told the plan right now is about 20-25 reps on Sunday, rookie Tony Pollard behind him and FB Jamize Olawale as your best blitz pickup guy on 3rd downs,” Slater tweeted. “Things can always change but this is the plan heading into today.”
Reps are not snaps, snaps are not touches, and touches are not necessarily carries. Reading between the lines, Slater was informed that Elliott would be on the field 20-25 times while ceding rushing attempts to his understudy. This is a deviation, albeit temporarily, from Elliott’s usual role as Dallas’ workhorse.
Elliott trained hard during his standoff in Cabo San Lucas, reportedly cutting his weight to its lowest mark since 2016. But there’s a huge difference between physique and football shape, and he’ll need to reintegrate into the latter — quickly.
For what it’s worth, head coach Jason Garrett doesn’t appear worried over Elliott’s immersion into the offense after an extended absence.
“Zeke is as capable as anybody I know,” Garrett said Monday. “He’s an experienced player, he’s been a really good player for us, he knows our system of football. I don’t think they’ll be a lot of learning there. he’s a smart guy, an instinctive guy.”
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G-Man Calls Out Elliott Ahead of Matchup
Ric Flair Alec Ogletree got his wish. The Giants linebacker expressed last week his desire for Elliott to become the league’s richest RB, because that’d ensure he’s on the field in Week 1.
“I hope he does show up,” Ogletree said, 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.”
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.
JJ Makes Zeke Quip
Jerry Jones is on record as feeling like he earned the right to joke with Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys’ owner exercised that right Wednesday morning, after Elliott agreed to a pact worth an overall value of $108 million, including a staggering $50 million in guarantees.
“I just turned my pockets out, upstairs,” Jones said in an appearance on CNBC. “It means I’m $100 million lighter this morning.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL