Ezekiel Elliott is returning to the Dallas Cowboys squad because his six-game suspension has finally come to an end. He will join the team for practice on Wednesday in order to prepare for the game against the Seattle Seahawks on Christmas Eve in Arlington, Texas.
“We get an extreme boost because that’s our guy,” wide receiver Dez Bryant said. “That’s our horse. He gives us that extra boost of joy because of his personality and who he is. He gets guys going with his attitude and his passion and love for the game. Just seeing him back will make us play that much harder.”
Ezekiel Elliott got suspended because he broke the NFL’s personal conduct policy over the allegations of domestic violence in 2016. The suspension came just before the start of a season, but it was constantly delayed by Elliott’s team of lawyers and the NFLPA. Moreover, franchise owner Jerry Jones defended Elliott because the NFL pursued the investigation despite the fact that law enforcement did not charge him.
“We need him back, and it’s exciting to have him back. Zeke is going to energize our whole team,” Jones said. “He’s energy in the locker room, and he’s an example of the really high standard. As far as domestic violence, he’s done nothing wrong as far as that is concerned. But in the NFL you don’t get to play six games or four games. Zeke wants to play in the NFL. We want him to play in the NFL, so we’ve got to abide by that. But make no mistake about it, Zeke will be a better player and a better person coming back with the Cowboys.”
Elliott was a wheel that kept Dallas turning in the first half of the season and in the eight games he played, this guy recorded 783 yards on 191 carries and scored seven touchdowns. He just shifted to a higher gear since, in the last four games, Elliott had at least 93 rushing yards, whereas the game against the Washington Redskins was easily his best with 150 yards on 33 carries and two TDs.
With Elliott out, Alfred Morris and Rod Smith were in the backfield, and they did a solid job, aside from the fact the entire team struggled at first. Morris was the primary option, and he had 99 carries for 430 yards, and recorded one touchdown, whereas his best game was against Washington, when he ran for 127 yards. On the other hand, Smith recorded 153 yards on 33 carries and a rushing touchdown in four straight games. He dominated when the Cowboys faced the New York Giants with the 81-yard catch for a score.
“He’s a great football player,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said of Elliott. “Obviously had a big impact on our football team in the times he’s been with us. But a real credit to Alfred Morris and to Rod Smith for playing as well as they have in his absence. Any time you have a player of Zeke’s caliber back in the lineup, he’s going to help. He’s going to take some pressure off everybody else. He’s just that kind of player, and he’s been that kind of player for us. There’ll still be a role for Alfred. There’ll still be a role for Rod. But we’ll certainly embrace Zeke being back.”
In their first three games without Elliott, the Cowboys suffered blowouts scoring only 22 points combined versus the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, and Los Angeles Chargers. Their last game was on Sunday, and they defeated the Oakland Raiders 20-17, keeping their playoff hopes alive. To have a shot at entering the playoffs at all, Dallas needs to win the remaining two games versus Seattle and Philly. They are currently 8-6.
“We’re in the hunt, but it’s not just, ‘Here he comes back,’ ” tight end Jason Witten said. “We can never rely on that. Great player and I know he’s worked hard to get himself back and handled this entire process like a pro, but the most important thing is just to be in the hunt still.”
Will Dallas manage to secure a playoff spot now that Elliott is back?