Machota: Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott knows he needs to be better - ‘I got a lot to prove’

Iamtdg

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Jul 22, 2021; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) during training camp practice at the Marriott Residence Inn. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

By Jon Machota Jul 23, 2021

OXNARD, Calif. — Ezekiel Elliott didn’t try to sugarcoat it on Thursday. The Cowboys running back played poorly in 2020, and he feels he let his teammates down.

To make sure that doesn’t happen again, he spent this offseason putting in extra work with a personal running back coach, helping him slim down to 218 pounds, his lightest weight since his freshman year at Ohio State. He was listed at 228 last season.

“Just having the year I had last year,” Elliott said, “you don’t need more motivation than that. I just know the type of player I am. I don’t think I showed that last year. I got a lot to prove. I just made sure I didn’t leave any doubt out there that I didn’t do as much as I needed to do.”

Elliott did not speak with reporters during organized team activities or minicamp. This was the first time since the season-ending loss to the New York Giants.

The three-time Pro Bowler finished last season with several career lows, including rushing yards (979), yards per carry (4.0), rushing touchdowns (6) and rushes of 20-plus yards (3). The NFL’s rushing champion in 2016 and 2018 said it was difficult watching the game tape from last season.

“I think the hardest part about last year is you kind of feel like you let your teammates down,” he said. “That hurts. I want to make sure that I put my best step forward and do everything I need to do to help this team win.”

Josh Hicks is a Dallas-based personal trainer and running backs coach who has been working with Elliott since the season ended. Hicks and Elliott have posted several videos on social media over the last few months of some of their workouts.

“When I first got him, to me, Zeke’s feet seemed a bit heavy,” Hicks told The Athletic three weeks ago. “They were coming up and off the ground, but not as quick as we needed them to be.”

Elliott said Thursday that he feels quicker.

“He definitely got me right this offseason,” Elliott said of Hicks. “I thank him a lot just for working with me, making it fun and making me a better player.”

The other area that bothered Elliott was his fumbling. He tied a career high with six fumbles in 15 games, the most of any NFL running back last season.

“I’ve never been a fumbler,” Elliott said. “When you carry the ball, you kind of carry the whole hope of the whole team, the whole organization, the whole fan base. If you cough it up and give it to the other team, you’re letting everyone down, so I mean, I think that’s the No. 1 thing, that’s my focus this year, protecting the ball.”

Elliott broke his left wrist at Ohio State. He now usually carries the ball in his right hand, something defenders have attacked.

“But that’s not an excuse, either,” Elliott said. “It’s my job to make sure I don’t fumble it. I’ve just got to focus on that every day in practice, every day in training and just continue to work hard at it and fix it. It doesn’t matter.”

You can see in this clip from Thursday’s practice that Elliott switches the ball from his right to his left hand as rookie linebacker Micah Parsons closes in. Elliott then covers the ball with both hands as he gets near the sideline.


Thirteen months ago, Elliott tested positive for COVID-19. He doesn’t believe any lingering effects impacted his play last season. He has received the vaccine, a decision he said was made to put himself in the best position to be there for his teammates all season.

But he is not encouraging his teammates one way or the other.

“I think that’s kind of a touchy subject,” Elliott said. “You can’t really tell somebody what to do with their body. I grew up in a family where we didn’t get vaccines, so it’s kind of hard to tell someone who their whole life their mom and dad tell them not to get vaccines, to go get vaccinated. It’s everyone’s body; you can’t tell them what to do.”

Elliott, who turned 26 on Thursday, said his close friend and teammate, Dak Prescott, gifted him a diamond bracelet for his birthday. The highlight of Elliott’s 15 minutes talking to reporters was the impression he did of a heavily medicated Prescott when he visited the Cowboys quarterback in the hospital immediately after his season-ending ankle injury in Week 5.


“He was out of it, but he was just like, ‘Feeeeed meeeee,’” Elliott said laughing, referring to the running back’s signature ‘Feed me’ gesture he does after big plays. “I was sad, but that made me feel good. There was never a doubt in my mind that he was going to bounce back from this injury.”

Thursday’s practice was not in full pads, but it was Prescott’s first as a full participant since the injury.

“I knew when it happened that he was going to do anything and everything he had to to get back to this team at 100 percent,” Elliott said, “so he can be the best leader and lead us out there on Sundays. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that he was going to come back stronger than where he was at.

“The dude’s a beast. He’s a machine. A hell of a leader. So blessed to play with him and ain’t no other quarterback I’d want to go to war with.”
 

Genghis Khan

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To make sure that doesn’t happen again, he spent this offseason putting in extra work with a personal running back coach, helping him slim down to 218 pounds, his lightest weight since his freshman year at Ohio State. He was listed at 228 last season.

“Just having the year I had last year,” Elliott said, “you don’t need more motivation than that. I just know the type of player I am. I don’t think I showed that last year. I got a lot to prove. I just made sure I didn’t leave any doubt out there that I didn’t do as much as I needed to do.”

“I think the hardest part about last year is you kind of feel like you let your teammates down,” he said. “That hurts. I want to make sure that I put my best step forward and do everything I need to do to help this team win.”

I give Zeke a lot of props for this attitude.

Compare that to Mr. Look At The Tape, Hey They Criticized Michael Jordan Too.
 

Shiningstar

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Zekes skills have dropped off, now he has to work harder to get back to where he was. hes not the main story for me im more interested in what they do with Pollard this year. if hes used more effectively, that will be really helpful for the offense.
 

bbgun

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gotta milk two more decent seasons out of him and then it's sayonara
 

Genghis Khan

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Zekes skills have dropped off, now he has to work harder to get back to where he was. hes not the main story for me im more interested in what they do with Pollard this year. if hes used more effectively, that will be really helpful for the offense.

The offense was best in the league by far when everyone was healthy.

It's kind of absurd to say that what the offense really needs is more Pollard touches.

They are objectively doing just fine the way things are.
 

Shiningstar

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The offense was best in the league by far when everyone was healthy.

It's kind of absurd to say that what the offense really needs is more Pollard touches.

They are objectively doing just fine the way things are.

well the way the cowboys have been doing it, you are correct, i mean we have hoisted the lombardi so many times. i mean do the same thing year after year am i right?

Surely we can trust Zeke will never go down and we can rely on him to get a TD eveyry time he touches the ball right? because hes the only RB on the team. Pollard has shown he has no skills.
 

Genghis Khan

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well the way the cowboys have been doing it, you are correct, i mean we have hoisted the lombardi so many times. i mean do the same thing year after year am i right?

Surely we can trust Zeke will never go down and we can rely on him to get a TD eveyry time he touches the ball right? because hes the only RB on the team. Pollard has shown he has no skills.

Do you know what a straw man argument is?

"A straw man (sometimes written as strawman) is a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the real subject of the argument was not addressed or refuted, but instead replaced with a false one. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be "attacking a straw man"."
 

Shiningstar

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Do you know what a straw man argument is?

"A straw man (sometimes written as strawman) is a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the real subject of the argument was not addressed or refuted, but instead replaced with a false one. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be "attacking a straw man"."

do you know what conversation is instead of assuming? you took the assuming side, you never even asked what my take was, which im going to give you


i have been on the kick Kellen has not been effective with the players, when Zeke was being stopped a lot, instead of using Pollard who would be running good that day he would run pollard, get yards and go back to Zeke, this was instanely stupid. I feel if KM can use Pollard more effectively like we never did with Barber and Felix, we would get a ton more out of Pollard and see what hes really capable of. We know what we have in Zeke, but Zeke will have bad games, Pollard needs to be given some more chances to show and utlize what he can do.


That has been my take
 

p1_

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I give Zeke a lot of props for this attitude.

Compare that to Mr. Look At The Tape, Hey They Criticized Michael Jordan Too.
I give Zeke a slight pass last year, the line was shot and he had to get all his yards on his own.
 

p1_

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The offense was best in the league by far when everyone was healthy.

It's kind of absurd to say that what the offense really needs is more Pollard touches.

They are objectively doing just fine the way things are.
I will say, having a rested Pollard is a huge boost. He's good to pop one much of the time.
 

p1_

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That doesn't explain his carelessness with the ball.
I think i blocked that from my memory. Wonder if those two things correlate? Zekes carelessness and poor oline play.
 

Genghis Khan

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do you know what conversation is instead of assuming? you took the assuming side, you never even asked what my take was, which im going to give you


i have been on the kick Kellen has not been effective with the players, when Zeke was being stopped a lot, instead of using Pollard who would be running good that day he would run pollard, get yards and go back to Zeke, this was instanely stupid. I feel if KM can use Pollard more effectively like we never did with Barber and Felix, we would get a ton more out of Pollard and see what hes really capable of. We know what we have in Zeke, but Zeke will have bad games, Pollard needs to be given some more chances to show and utlize what he can do.


That has been my take

I'm aware of what your dumbass take is.

Doesn't change the fact that you are arguing things I never said.

Usually people use straw man arguments because they don't have a lucid response to the actual discussion at hand. So you add in things that weren't part of the discussion so that you have an easier target to argue against.
 

Shiningstar

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I'm aware of what your dumbass take is.

Doesn't change the fact that you are arguing things I never said.

Usually people use straw man arguments because they don't have a lucid response to the actual discussion at hand. So you add in things that weren't part of the discussion so that you have an easier target to argue against.

wow ok, didnt think it was going to get personal, but whatever.

you didint have to respond.
 

Genghis Khan

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wow ok, didnt think it was going to get personal, but whatever.

you didint have to respond.

In what way is it personal? I'm discussing the things you are saying.

I state that the offense is fine the way it is, you come back a completely out of left field accusation that I'm ignoring 25 years of futility and ignoring the fact that injuries happen.

You know, things I never said.

I point this out, and you come back with an accusation that I'm assuming something or other about how you hate Kellen Moore or whatever. Something you've mentioned before in the past.

The truth is, you're the one assuming things, since I don't have a whole lot of faith in Moore myself. But that's not what we've been talking about here.

There's nothing personal about pointing out that your arguments are flawed.

You didn't have to respond either, by the way.
 

p1_

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Some of you guys way overrate Pollard.
Moi? You don’t mean to say he didn’t have solid explosive plays for his touches and opportunities do you ?
I will say, his kick returns do not impress, and I want more from him on that capacity. Or let ced Wilson do it .
 
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ravidubey

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Zeke might have realized for the first time in his life he can't just show up and let his talent (and that of his OL) tear up the league.

This is the first time we've seen him really put in the time conditioning his body while simultaneously working at his craft.

I am liking how he has responded, losing weight, the drills, and most importantly his attitude.

We need to also hope his losing weight didn't mean losing power.
 
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