The Dallas Cowboys got a massive performance out of running back Tony Pollard in his first start but don’t expect Ezekiel Elliott’s role to change once he returns.
The Cowboys beat the Bears 49-29 behind three touchdowns from Pollard, who rushed for 131 yards on just 14 carries. He finished the game with a ridiculous 9.4 yards per carry average, which was helped by a 54-yard run in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Elliott — who has 443 yards on 109 carries — is dealing with a hyperextended right knee, per ESPN. Despite Pollard’s big performance with more work, Elliott’s role is not expected to decrease, per owner and general manager Jerry Jones.
“We go as Zeke goes. I really mean that. Zeke’s that important to this team. He’s as important to us as he was before the game. … There’s no argument,” Jones said when asked about Pollard getting more work after the performance. “Zeke’s ability to punish. Zeke’s ability to deliver it. What he does for us in pass protection. And, frankly, Zeke’s ability to make big plays are there. We’re going to go as Zeke goes. He’s that integral to our success this year.”
Elliott Likely to Return After Bye Week
Jones said previously that Elliott sitting out on Sunday allowed the veteran back to have some extra rest, with the Cowboys now entering the bye week.
“I’m not so sure we’d have done it this way had we not had the bye. This just gives too good of an opportunity if we don’t use Zeke,” Jones said. “And we’ll see how he is responding as the week goes along, but if we don’t use him, this is just too great of a time to get him in top shape.”
Elliott had missed just one game over the last three seasons prior to Sunday’s matchup with the Bears and clearly wanted to be on the field.
“I think pain is temporary and I need to be out there with my guys,” Elliott said. “I think it’s my job to be out there, to be available. If I can be out there, s**t, why not? I’m not going to take a game off because I don’t feel 100%. I think that’s soft.”
Elliott battled through a partially torn posterior ligament in his right knee last season but still managed to crack the 1,000-yard mark.
Elliott Has Embraced Partnership With Pollard
It’s a delicate situation in the Dallas backfield but Elliott has embraced Pollard taking some of the load off his shoulders in the run game.
“One, it keeps both of us fresh,” Elliott said in September. “That is a big thing and. And two, its two different running style you have to prepare against. They get used to one running style and now here comes the other guy. … I think things have been working pretty well.”
For Elliott, the focus is firmly on winning games, which the Cowboys have been able to do despite an injury to QB Dak Prescott that had him sidelined for five games.
“I’m good with that, man,’’ Elliott said of the split in work. “All I’m worried about is winning football games and going to chase that ring.”
After this season, Elliott will 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. The emergence of the 25-year-old Pollard as a reliable every-down back will play a role in the decision.