If any player has won the offseason, it is Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott who has received rave reviews from his teammates and coaches. Dak Prescott described Elliott as in the “best shape of his life” calling the Cowboys RB1 the best running back in the league.
“Zeke is in the best shape of his life. … When Zeke’s healthy and doing his thing, he’s the best back in this league,” Prescott said, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota.
All eyes are on Elliott as the running back is coming off one of the worst statistical seasons of his career as he failed to top the 1,000 rushing yards mark in 2020. Elliott had 244 carries for 979 rushing yards and six touchdowns to go along with 52 receptions for 338 yards and two touchdowns.
McCarthy on Elliott: ‘He Goes to the Early-Morning Quarterback Meetings’
The Cowboys quarterback appears to have full confidence that Elliott is headed for a bounce-back season. Throughout the offseason, Elliott has been posting workout videos showing off some of the hard work he is putting in ahead of the upcoming season. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy recently gave Elliott a rave review calling the rusher a “pro’s pro” revealing that he has been pulling double duty by attending the quarterback meetings as well.
“I think Zeke looks great, I mean, he’s been here pretty much the whole time,” McCarthy remarked in a June 8th press conference. “He goes to the early-morning quarterback meetings. He’s a pro’s pro, I’ve been impressed with Zeke since day one. He sits in the front row, asks good questions. He knows the offense in and out. He’s definitely one of the leaders, especially the leader of the running back group. Helps the young guys. I mean, he does everything you look for in a veteran. So, I think he’s had an outstanding offseason program.”
Moore on Zeke: ‘Fast, Crisp’
Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore also recently praised Elliott’s offseason work. Moore described Elliott as “fast, crisp” in terms of how he has looked in the team’s workouts.
“Zeke’s had an awesome offseason,” Moore noted, per 247 Sports. “He’s looked great out there, he’s got total command of the whole thing. It’s been great. …I think he looks really, really good out there. I mean just fast, crisp, in and out of things. He, you know, looks really good and we’re excited.”
The Cowboys Will Continue to Balance Carries Between Elliott & Pollard
Given Elliott’s struggles last season, the Cowboys leaned on Tony Pollard a bit more than his rookie season. Pollard had 101 carries for 435 yards and four touchdowns as well as 28 catches for 193 receiving yards and a touchdown. It will be worth monitoring how the Cowboys balance utilizing both backs. Blogging the Boys’ Brian Martin noted he would not be surprised to see Pollard receive 40% of the workload to Elliott’s 60%.
“In that case, we could very well see more of a 60/40 split between Elliott and Pollard in 2021,” Martin noted. “Not only would it benefit both players for the long haul now that the league has expanded the NFL season, but a running back timeshare is something head coach Mike McCarthy has favored in the past as well.”
If Elliott’s offseason reports are accurate, the Cowboys star running back’s success may not allow Pollard or any other rusher to get many carries in 2021. It will be interesting to see if Elliott’s hard work translates into Cowboys victories come the fall.