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Thursday, June 6, 2024

Ezekiel Elliott’s Cowboys return feels just like the ‘f—– greatest’ per QB Dak Prescott; teammates laud RB’s impression

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FRISCO, Texas — What’s the very first thing that involves thoughts when interested by Dallas Cowboys working Ezekiel Elliott?

For many individuals, the solutions would vary between bulldozing defenders for first downs or breaking away downfield for touchdowns. These have been common occurrences throughout Elliott’s prime, first 4 seasons from 2016 by 2019 when he registered over 1,300 dashing yards thrice, together with two dashing titles in 2016 (1,631) and 2018 (1,434). 

The reply to that query for Elliott’s teammates now that he has returned to Dallas on a one-year deal after a yr away with the New England Patriots in 2023 following his early launch from a six-year, $90 million contract extension he signed again in 2019 is easy. It is his character. 

“The primary day he is again he put an enormous smile on everybody’s face within the locker room,” Cowboys seven-time First-Crew All-Professional proper guard Zack Martin mentioned Tuesday at obligatory minicamp when requested about Elliott’s return to Dallas after the 2024 NFL Draft. “He is acquired an infectious character, perhaps one thing we missed at instances final yr. So, it is nice to have him again.”

That character was on full show shortly after his interview session with native media on Wednesday after the Cowboys’ minicamp observe. Elliott jogged again into the center of the locker room and jumped into hitting the Whip and Nae Nae dance strikes whereas capturing a towel he used throughout observe into the laundry bin in the midst of the room. Elliott was smiling and laughing and not using a care on the planet. 

“[It’s] the  f—– greatest,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott mentioned of Elliott’s return and first full month again in Dallas.

“It means quite a bit. It means quite a bit,” Elliott mentioned Wednesday at obligatory minicamp when informed of his teammates’ appreciation. “I undoubtedly work to be that man. Being acknowledged means quite a bit. The primary factor is we’ll have enjoyable, however we’ll work. We will get work. We will be taking ourselves ahead, however we acquired to have enjoyable doing it.” 

The backfield duo got here into the NFL collectively as part of Dallas’ 2016 NFL Draft class with Elliott being chosen fourth general and Prescott coming off the board one hundred and thirty fifth general within the fourth spherical. The three-time Professional Bowl quarterback referred to as the three-time Professional Bowl working again his “little brother” and a greatest good friend clearly”  previous to the Cowboys going through Elliott when he was on the Patriots in Week 4 final season. Regardless of being away throughout the 2023 season, these across the constructing at The Star in Frisco, Dallas’ facility, really feel like Elliott ” actually by no means left” as he is reintegrated himself into the Cowboys offense. 

“It simply appears like Zeke actually by no means left,” Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy mentioned on Might 30 at organized crew actions when requested about Elliott’s first month again. “There’s issues which might be completely different. He is had some new studying schematically, language, issues like that. The muse of what he is achieved. Frankly, in all probability his expertise in New England [in 2023] to be taught one other system … He is picked it up. Appears to be like good.”  

Elliott himself agreed with McCarthy’s evaluation concerning what’s been a seamless transition again to a spot he views as house.

“I would not say I used to be in any respect fearful about how I used to be going to really feel after I acquired again,” he mentioned when speaking about becoming again into the crew. “I used to be gone for nevertheless lengthy, however I nonetheless talked to a whole lot of the blokes within the locker room. Nonetheless frolicked with a whole lot of guys within the locker room. Sort of simply picked up the place I left off.”

Regardless that Elliott’s return after a yr away with the New England Patriots in 2023 means extra competitors for snaps and carries in 2024, Dallas working again Rico Dowdle, who served as Tony Pollard‘s again up final season, cracked an enormous smile when requested about having the massive bruiser as a teammate for a second time with the Cowboys. 

“Nice. That is a man, a vet that is been right here earlier than. Nice to have him again. Man brings the power every single day. Retains everybody collectively,” Dowdle mentioned at organized crew actions on Might 30, smiling when requested about Elliott. “That is my man. … That man’s a personality man, he’ll make a reminiscence every single day. Nothing particularly (when it comes to a reminiscence), simply popping out and having enjoyable. We’re having fun with one another, going on the market and competing however no specific reminiscence. He is only a vet man, leads the suitable method. Teaching us, the youthful guys, up within the assembly rooms and stuff.”

What does Elliott convey to a working again place that at the moment has eight gamers in it getting into coaching camp out in Oxnard, California? The soccer lifetime of a participant whose 2,065 profession carries rank as essentially the most within the NFL since he entered the league in 2016 and whose 8,904 dashing yards rank because the second-most in the identical span behind solely Derrick Henry‘s 9,502 yards on the bottom.

“Shoot, eight years,” Elliott mentioned when requested what classes he imparts on his youthful teammates on the working again place. “Eight years, nevertheless many carries, nevertheless many reps, nevertheless many blitz pickups. Simply the expertise. I’ve seen nearly all the pieces. Simply give them a bit of little bit of my expertise, and any tidbit or nugget that would assist them with their recreation…. We acquired a whole lot of guys. Plenty of good younger gamers that convey a whole lot of good issues to the desk. I am excited to get to work with them in camp and proceed to assist them develop.”

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Getting into his ninth NFL season in 2024, Elliott has put much more into his offseason conditioning in addition to pre and post-practice warmup routine. The weight-reduction plan is a bit of completely different approaching 29 (his birthday is on July 22) than it was when he was a 21-year-old rookie in 2016. Steak is now not a daily part prefer it as soon as was.

“Undoubtedly acquired to. Undoubtedly acquired to,” Elliott mentioned when requested if his weight-reduction plan has modified over time. “That metabolism is certainly slowing down. Cannot do as a lot Nick and Sam’s as I would like. Undoubtedly should tighten up there.”

HIs pre-practice warmup additionally appears to be like markedly completely different than it was within the earlier phases of his profession. 

“Simply have to take action far more. My routine is much more complicated,” Elliott mentioned. “I’ve a whole lot of new workouts and issues to assist me prep my knees so I am able to go. It undoubtedly takes a bit of extra to get heat and prepare for these practices.”

A part of his pre-practice routine entails warming up with a resistance band linked to his waist in addition to affiliate athletic coach/director of rehabilitation Britt Brown’s. As soon as Elliott is good and heat, he ends the session with a hug for Brown, who joined the Cowboys in a full-time capability in 1996.

Elliott’s pre-practice routine now entails a warmup with director of rehab Britt Brown.
Garrett Podell

“Man, Britt’s household to me,” Elliott mentioned. “Coping with these knee accidents, he was there each step of the way in which, and he was a man who at all times had my again. Even at instances, defending me from myself. I need to be on the market on that area, however I simply actually respect him for being among the finest for me it doesn’t matter what it’s.”

The nagging knee accidents that slowed him down in 2022 — his final season with the Cowboys earlier than his launch when he recorded Dallas profession lows in carries (231), dashing yards (876), yards per carry (3.8) and scrimmage yards (968) — are now not part of his day-to-day life in 2024 because of each his new routine and time. 

“I undoubtedly do not actually really feel a lot from it in any respect,” Elliott mentioned when requested his knees. “I believe it simply, you already know I had these again to again years with these form of unfortunate accidents, however making it by final yr fairly injury-free knock on wooden. I really feel good going into the season.”

Cowboys proprietor and basic supervisor Jerry Jones declared Elliott stays a starting-caliber, NFL working again within the yr 2024 after the primary spherical of the 2024 NFL Draft on the finish of April. That declare got here regardless of Elliott totaling his worst NFL season with the Patriots in 2023, registering profession lows in dashing yards (642), dashing touchdowns (three), carries (184) and yards per carry (3.5). The 28-year-old again agreed with Jones’ evaluation, however he is not as involved with having the majority of Dallas’ dashing makes an attempt, particularly early within the season, as he as soon as was. 

“I nonetheless view myself as a starter on this league,” Elliott mentioned. “But in addition I acquired to maintain my physique and ensure I am contemporary for when it issues. What’s that going to appear like? I am not essentially certain, however we’ll determine it out. … I really like soccer. I’ll do no matter it takes for me, that I must do to assist this crew win. No matter that’s.”

Dallas working backs coach Jeff Blasko mentioned the Cowboys’ teaching employees’s strategy to their working again by committee outlook “could change weekly” and that it is going to be about “really feel” again in mid-Might. Regardless, Elliott will doubtless have a well-recognized function in 2024: that of a short-yardage battering ram. His profession third down dialog price on rushes with lower than 5 yards to realize for a primary down is 72.2%, the fifth-best mark within the league among the many 44 working backs who’ve at the very least 600 carries since Elliott entered the NFL in 2016 because the fourth general decide. 

“He is, clearly a can of kick-ass in that division [short yardage],” Blasko mentioned of Elliott. “He is a man that over the course of his profession can create on his personal in these conditions. Every thing would not essentially should be blocked completely. He is form of been an eraser for that: masking up whether or not it is a psychological error or a basic [blocking] error. He is been in a position to form of to be a band-aid, so to talk, to form of cowl that up. I believe there have been instances final yr the place having an even bigger physique kind that may hammer it house, I believe would have helped us.”    

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