There’s a rather sizable drum the Dallas Cowboys have been pounding all season, and that’s the fact they’re playing the “long game” when it comes to how they manage player injuries. That’s led to taking a deliberate and judicious approach in the return of players like two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott and All-Pro starters Tyron Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence, among others (e.g., Neville Gallimore, Michael Gallup), but it appears Ezekiel Elliott stands behind a different percussion instrument — a trombone.
That said, it’s time someone sound the trumpets on their uneven approach here. It’s clear to anyone with working retinas that Elliott — who has proven to be not only super durable, but also to have a very high threshold for pain — is dealing with a knee issue that goes beyond a pre-game injection. Is it something that’s potentially season-ending? No, but it is being aggravated greatly by both a refusal to rest him for at least a game and an offensive gameplan that continues to lean on him as if nothing is physically wrong.
In the Week 13 win over the Saints on Thursday night, Elliott was often seen limping after plays and grimacing as he ran out of bounds on at least one handoff. He’d finish with 13 carries (six more than a very healthy Tony Pollard) for just 45 yards, and continues battling through the lowest stretch of production in his career.
Prior to injuring his knee, his explosiveness was on full display with outings of 95, 143 and 110 yards rushing in Week 3 through Week 5, respectively, but his bad wheel has robbed him of that quickness and speed. Still, it’s gone mostly ignored by the Cowboys when it comes to game prep, with owner Jerry Jones pivoting away from any speculation of possibly resting Elliott against the Saints and instead stating the two-time rushing champ would see have a “serious load” at Caesars Superdome.
No, that’s not confounding at all…