Cowboys Send Clear Message on Ezekiel Elliott’s Future

Ezekiel Elliott

Getty Images Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Ezekiel Elliott’s future with the Dallas Cowboys has been a topic of conversation this offseason but head coach Mike McCarthy had nothing but good things to say about his running back at the start of training camp on Wednesday.

McCarthy was asked if he felt Elliott should have sat last season rather than playing through a partially torn PCL and spun it into a positive that the three-time Pro Bowler was able to battle through it.

“Players play hurt in this league and he did for a big part of the season,” McCarthy told reporters. “I look at it from the other end. I think it is really a reflection on who he is as a competitor and a football player.”

As far as his future and role on the team, McCarthy was clear that Elliott will be a big part of what they do as his Cowboys look to end their extended Super Bowl drought.

“Ezekiel Elliott is one of our rocks on this team,” McCarthy said, mentioning Elliott’s contributions off the field. “He’s a keystone player. You need those types of individuals to win championships.”

Ezekiel Elliott Entering Crucial Season With Cowboys

It’s an interesting statement from McCarthy but far from the first time he’s thrown his support behind the former rushing leader. A healthy and lean Elliott drew the praise of his head coach during OTAs, with McCarthy predicting a career year.

“I think the biggest thing with Zeke is he’s completely healthy now and he’s had a tremendous offseason,” McCarthy said. “The weight that he has been pushing in the weight room, just the numbers that he’s been cranking out have been very, very impressive. I can’t tell you it’s been the best of his career, but he’s in top shape. At the end of the day, he’s an extremely instinctive, tough, smart football player, great teammate. So, I think he’s definitely set himself up for that.”

Elliott is entering a crucial year when it comes to his future. After this season, he’ll have no guaranteed money left on his deal and the Cowboys might flinch at keeping him around at a $10.9 million salary with a $16.72 million cap hit. Elliott was clear while speaking to reporters at camp that he feels like if he has a big year, he’ll be OK.

“I think it is a big season,” Elliott said. “If I handle my business every day, I’ll be in a pretty good situation at the end of the season.”

Ezekiel Elliott Not Using Injury as an Excuse

Elliott is coming off a year where he registered 237 carries for 1,002 yards — a 4.2 per carry average. He also found the end zone 10 times but didn’t consistently look like the top back he once was. As he pointed out, much of that could be attributed to the injury, although he wasn’t making any excuses.

“I mean, I was hurt last year, but it’s football, after Week 1 no one is going to be 100%. That’s part of the game,” Elliott said after Dallas’ OTA workouts. “I think I knew I was tough, I think I knew I could play through injuries … it was definitely tough, but hey, it’s my job.”

The Cowboys will also look to integrate Tony Pollard into the offense a little more after he notched 130 carries a year ago. He collected a career-best 719 yards on the ground and contributed in the passing game with 39 catches for 337 yards.

“It’s time to give some of our young players the opportunity to step up,” Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones said during his opening training camp press conference on Tuesday.

The statement wasn’t directly aimed at Pollard but he’s another player who will be looking for an impressive season as he plays out the final year of his rookie deal.

Read More