Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott’s Playing Status Revealed for Week 17

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

Getty Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

Despite a calf issue that continues to nag, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will be available for Sunday’s must-win regular-season finale.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy revealed Wednesday that although Elliott is shaping up as a limited practice participant, the three-time Pro Bowler is expected to play in Week 17 at New York.

The calf injury, which forced Elliott to sit out Week 15, appeared to be a thing of the past in last Sunday’s 37-17 stomping of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys’ third straight victory, in which he converted 19 carries into a game-high 105 rushing yards. Elliott looked like a man reborn, averaging 5.5 yards-per-tote and busting a 31-yard fourth-quarter scamper he punctuated with his signature “feed me” celebration.

“With the way the year has been going, and honestly it’s been tough this year to celebrate when you don’t have that many fans,” he said after the game. “But that one run just definitely felt good. I think just the biggest thing for me is just that I felt, I feel healthy. I’ve been feeling a little dinged up past weeks and this week I feel healthy, and I felt like myself.”

Elliott needs 64 yards to notch his third consecutive 1,000-yard season. And he’ll attempt to cross the mark against the Giants’ 11th-ranked run defense, which surrenders 111.6 YPG.

His success is central to the 6-9 Cowboys’ chances of improbably capturing the NFC East crown. The team must beat Big Blue and have Philadelphia take down division-leading Washington on Sunday Night Football in order to clinch a playoff berth.

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Zeke Rips Fans Who ‘Gave Up’ on Cowboys

“Because I am a competitor,” Elliott prefaced, the 25-year-old lobbed an extremely pointed message at the detractors who not long ago left the team for dead — the same team that now is eyeing a home postseason contest.

“If you gave up five, six weeks ago, we don’t even want you on our side,” Elliott said following Sunday’s win over Philadelphia, via “I mean, we are competitors. This whole team is. We are a team of competitors. I mean, we weren’t out of it. All we have to do is, we’ve got to win next weekend and we need a little help from the guys we just played. But, you know, I like how this team is playing football right now. Coach McCarthy said his plan was for us to trend up through the season. And right now, I think we’re catching fire at the right time.”

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‘Right Where We Need to Be’

If the Cowboys’ offense plays to potential — a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard wide receivers, and a 100-yard rusher in Week 16 — it can compete with any defense in the NFL. Including a Giants unit it already handled back in October.

What happens in the Washington tilt is immaterial to the development that Kellen Moore’s unit has undertaken. Just three weeks ago, on Dec. 8, the Cowboys found themselves at 3-9, bound for a top-five draft pick. That outfit is almost unrecognizable from the one that blew past Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.

Maintaining his confidence, Elliott indicated the pulse in the locker room never matched that of the outside world. And now the Cowboys are getting hot at exactly the right time.

“We never thought we were out of it,” he said. “Our division’s been struggling this year. We’re right where we need to be with what’s been going on with the division.”

READ NEXT: Cowboys Release Veteran Player Days Before Must-Win Season Finale

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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