In essence, Elliot expects to replicate his exhibition workload from a season ago. The decision comes down to one of health as he prepares to handle a massive workload for the third consecutive season. In the first two, he averaged 23.6 and 26.8 touches per game, so his bell-cow status really isn't in question.
Elliott looks quicker and leaner at training camp this year, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. "You go at this time last year, he's very stressed out," Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown said. "Wasn't himself. Looked big. Now he looks happy and jubilant and lean and just going out there and having some fun. So it's a completely different Zeke than it was last year."
Elliott reported to training camp last year a bit over his usual playing weight, perhaps showing signs of stress from an offseason marked by unfavorable TMZ reports and the looming threat of a suspension. He was still productive once the season began, though his stat line was more a product of volume than efficiency, as he dropped from 5.1 yards per carry as a rookie to 4.1 in 2017. The 23-year-old had a quiet offseason this time around, and his conditioning will be of the utmost importance for a Dallas offense that lost top targets Jason Witten and Dez Bryant during the offseason. In addition to his usual massive workload on the ground, Elliott may need to pick up more slack in the passing game. He owns career averages of 22.6 carries, 2.3 catches and 129.8 scrimmage yards per game, with 25 total touchdowns in 25 appearances.
Elliott may take on a larger pass-catching role to help compensate for the absence of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Elliott's 74.3 percent career catch rate (58 of 78 targets) is mediocre for a running back, but he owns impressive marks of 10.9 yards per catch and 8.1 per target, thanks to a pair of big plays -- gains of 83 and 72 -- that account for 24.5 percent of his receiving yards. While unlikely to reach the Le'Veon Bell/David Johnson level, Elliott should draw four or five looks per game as the Cowboys try to replace Bryant and Witten's 220 combined targets. Elliott led the league with 24.2 carries per game last season, and while he only averaged 2.6 catches and 3.8 targets, he typically stayed on the field for passing downs.
Elliott carried the ball 27 times for 103 yards while adding three catches for 38 yards in Sunday's 6-0 win over the Eagles.
Very little went right for either offense in this one, but Elliott still came through with his fifth 100-yard rushing performance in 10 games and fell just 17 yards shy of another 1000-yard season. Assuming he stays out of the league's disciplinary crosshairs in 2018 and avoids another suspension, Elliott should be primed for a very productive campaign as the centerpiece of the Cowboys' offense.
Elliott's return from a six-game suspension Week 16 against the Seahawks wasn't enough for the Cowboys to avoid a loss, which officially eliminated Dallas from playoff contention. Though the team has little at stake in Week 17, head coach Jason Garrett evidently wants the Cowboys to close the season on a high note, so the team's key contributors will suit up like usual. Despite his lengthy absence, Elliott didn't exhibit any noticeable rust against Seattle, producing 118 yards on 28 touches (four receptions). Expect the running back to enjoy another hefty workload Sunday.
|P4||8/30/18||@ HOU||8:00 pm|
|1||9/9/18||@ CAR||4:25 pm|
|3||9/23/18||@ SEA||4:25 pm|
|5||10/7/18||@ HOU||8:20 pm|
|7||10/21/18||@ WAS||4:25 pm|
|Bye: Week 8|
|10||11/11/18||@ PHI||8:20 pm|
|11||11/18/18||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|15||12/16/18||@ IND||1:00 pm|
|17||12/30/18||@ NYG||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|