Jerry Jones Reveals Change of Plan with Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott, Jerry Jones

Getty Ezekiel Elliott, Jerry Jones

So much for that whole rest thing.

Debunking recent media reports, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones proclaimed starting running back Ezekiel Elliott will handle a “serious load” in Thursday’s road contest against the New Orleans Saints.

“The facts are we expect him to have a serious load against New Orleans,” were Jones’ exact words during a radio interview with 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday, November 30, via USA Today’s Jori Epstein.

Jones’ declaration flew in the face of a November 26 report by ESPN’s Ed Werder, who wrote the Cowboys “will consider” sitting Elliott at New Orleans, allowing his balky knee time to heal following two straight early-week games. It also somewhat contradicted head coach Mike McCarthy, who himself hinted at an altered role for the $90 million centerpiece.

“It’s that time of year,” McCarthy said November 26, via ESPN. “Zeke’s running style is ferocious. He gives a pounding, and he takes some hits. We need to evaluate that, and this week we’ll see what the preparation looks like for him.”

His knee hampered by a bone bruise over the last two months, Elliott converted nine carries into 25 feckless yards for a season-low 2.8 yards-per-tote during Dallas’ 36-33 overtime loss to Las Vegas on Thanksgiving. He has not eclipsed 100 rushing yards in a game since Week 5.

“It’s football,” Elliott said of the injury, per ESPN. “You get hurt. You aren’t going to be 100 percent. I’m tough. Play through it.”

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Zeke Downplays Notion of Time Off

It went a bit under-reported due to the team’s COVID-19 outbreak, but Elliott also threw cold water on Werder’s hearsay indicating he could miss Week 13 or take a backseat to dynamic understudy Tony Pollard. He didn’t sound thrilled by either suggestion.

“No one has come to me and asked me to rest,” Elliott told reporters on Sunday, November 28, via the official Cowboys website. “If they bring it up to me, I’ve just got to go with what they think is best for the team, and leave it at that.”

Pollard is averaging 5.3 YPC on the season compared to Elliott’s 4.5. The former out-carried the latter, 10-9, against the Raiders as ground yardage was few and far between. But Pollard chipped in a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown during which he flashed the game-busting ability that Zeke sorely lacks, and knows he lacks.

“It’s a long season. We plan on playing late into the playoffs, so I think Tony (Pollard) is a very good back,” Elliott said Sunday, via Pro Football Talk. “I don’t think there’s any drop off when I’m not on the field. He’s been doing a hell of a job just stepping up.”

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Jerry Confident in Interim HC Quinn

The aforementioned coronavirus upsurge has spread throughout The Star, infecting everyone from wide receiver Amari Cooper to head coach Mike McCarthy. McCarthy tested positive after the Thanksgiving loss and was subsequently ruled out for Week 13.

McCarthy tapped defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as his head-coaching replacement for Thursday’s showdown at New Orleans. The decision was publicly approved by Jones.

“It hasn’t been that many games or that mean weeks or that many months that he hasn’t been out there making these in-game calls,” he said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan, via ESPN’s Todd Archer. “We’re fortunate to have him.”