He’s baaaaack (and $100 million richer).
The ink barely dry on his record-setting contract extension, and his 40-day holdout kaput, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott rejoined his teammates at practice on Wednesday as Dallas began full-scale install for Sunday’s season-opener against the Giants.
Take a look at Zeke making his way onto the grass at The Star:
Elliott, who signed a $108 million deal with $50 million guaranteed, will slide right into his role as the Cowboys’ starting RB, active for the Week 1 rivalry game at AT&T Stadium. Although, as NFL Network reported earlier Wednesday, the two-time Pro Bowler could be on a pitch count, at least initially, losing touches to rookie sensation Tony Pollard.
“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.”
But Elliott is in the building, under contract, and on the field, where he belongs. Now the march toward Miami can begin in earnest.
“We all got one major goal right now and that’s to win a Super Bowl. Couldn’t miss Week 1,” he told reporter Lindsay Draper.
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Garrett Discusses Elliott’s Return, Week 1 Plan
While training in Cabo San Lucas during his holdout, Elliott reportedly dropped his weight to the low-220s — the lowest it’s been since his 2016 rookie year. But, as Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett intimated, he still has to get into peak football shape, which could take longer than a few days.
“We anticipate him practicing, and we’ll see how he does,” Garrett said. “He’ll go through the dynamic warmup and the individual, and we’ll see how he’s responding. He’s in very good shape. He looks good, but he hasn’t been practicing with pro football players. So we’ll just see how he fits back in, but he’s a quick study; he’s a smart guy; he has an excellent football IQ. Se we’ll see where he is and adjust accordingly as we go.”
Elliott wasn’t a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, sitting out the majority of team drills, but he’s expected to do more Thursday. While the rust-removal process is a tedious one, limited Zeke is better than no Zeke. A whole lot better. And if Dallas must temporarily suffer through practice without full Zeke … well, that’s a good problem to have.
“Obviously excited. Again, Zeke’s been a big part of our team,” Garrett said. “He’s so well respected by everybody in our organization and a really important player for us. So it’s great to get him back in here. I know they were working hard on it last night. I was in those conversations. Then, this morning, we woke up early and we found out the news, and we got him in here, and he’s had a good day so far.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL