The NFL has suspended Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games, the long-awaited ruling on an investigation into domestic violence allegations that has lasted for over a year.
The domestic violence accusations came from a former girlfriend of Elliott's who has twice claimed that Zeke physically abused her. The credibility of the accuser has been in question, though, from evidence that she was lying and asking friends to do the same. Elliott has explained that the woman is bitter over their relationship and trying to hurt him in the public eye.
Even if the domestic issue was entirely false, Zeke's had some other problems and hits to his reputation. He was seen at a marijuana dispensary in Seattle during the 2016 preseason, which isn't illegal in the state of Washington but still a bad look given the league's policy on cannabis.
Last March, Zeke was caught on camera briefly lifting a female friend's shirt up during a St. Patrick's Day parade. It quickly became clear that this was in keeping with their relationship, but still poor judgment in Elliott's part given the ongoing domestic violence investigation.
Elliott also received a speeding ticket for going 100 mph on a 70 mph highway in April. In July, he was at a nightclub where a fight occurred and police were called in. It was initially rumored that he'd been involved in the altercation, but that was never confirmed or charged officially.
The wait for the NFL's initial ruling is over, but the fight may have only just begun for Zeke and the league. He does have the right to appeal the suspension, the process for which was outlined by sports attorney Daniel Wallach on Twitter:
Elliott must file his appeal within 3 business days, and #NFL would then have 10 days to conduct a hearing. https://t.co/SU7ecnLnlC
The idea has been out there that Elliott and the Cowboys might use the appeal process strategically. Zeke's suspension is not enforced while under appeal, meaning he can keep playing until it's over. Even if they don't believe the suspension would be reduced, keeping Elliott available for the season opener against the New York Giants makes a lot of sense.
Based on the timeline provided by Wallach, the NFL's internal appeal process would be done by August 29th or 30th (depending on if today counts as one of the three days to file appeal). The Giants will be here on September 10th. Obviously, that doesn't work.
However, Elliott could then seek an injunction against the NFL and take his fight to the courts. The effect would be the same; Zeke could keep playing while the process plays out through the legal system. As we saw with Tom Brady, that could potentially delay things for an entire year.
There is always the potential, though, that Zeke doesn't want to go through all of this and will just accept the suspension. If so, Dallas will likely be looking to Darren McFadden as they did in 2015. Even with Tony Romo out of the year and no real passing threat from Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, or Kellen Moore, McFadden still had over 1,000 yards on the ground and 300 receiving. With Dak Prescott under center, McFadden could conceivably do even more.
That said, McFadden was 28 then and turns 30 in a few weeks. That's a long time in RB years. Thankfully, the Cowboys still have Alfred Morris and the emerging Rod Smith to help lighten the load. We may see more of a rotation during Zeke's absence than we're used to from recent seasons.
What the Cowboys do next depends on Ezekiel Elliott. Will he appeal? How far will he take that fight? I hate to say it after all this time, but we're still in wait-and-see mode.
Report: Center Travis Frederick Undergoing Shoulder Evaluation
After missing the team's walkthrough this morning, it is being reported that Dallas Cowboys starting center Travis Frederick is having his shoulder evaluated due to multiple stingers. According to reports, Frederick has been dealing with stingers all training camp, and the Cowboys are unsure what is wrong with his shoulder.
Frederick rarely misses any practice time at all, and has not missed a start since he entered the league in 2013. He's the catalyst of this offensive line, and will be greatly missed if his injury is severe enough to make him miss regular season game time.
Jason Garrett says Travis Frederick is getting his shoulder looked at in Los Angeles. He's been dealing with stingers. No update behind that #cowboyswire
Joe Looney has been tasked with replacing Frederick for the time being, taking first team center reps during today's walk through and practice.
Given how meaningless Saturday's game is, I'd expect Looney to start at center against the Bengals this weekend as well. Hopefully the evaluation reveals that Frederick's issues are not serious and he will be ready for game one, but consistent stingers will always make fans fear for the worst.
Cowboys G Marcus Martin Needs Surgery; Impact on 53-Man Roster
Marcus Martin, the veteran guard Dallas signed as a free agent last March, suffered a potential season-ending injury in the team's preseason opener last Thursday night. Just how long he'll be out is still be determined, but it still should impact the Cowboys' final 53-man roster this season.
Martin tore ligaments in his right big toe against the 49ers. However, as of yesterday, it was not decided if he would pursue surgery.
The Cowboys don't expect backup OG Marcus Martin to play this season after he tore ligaments in his big toe in the preseason opener, but he's seeking a 2nd opinion before deciding whether to have surgery. Martin signed a 1-year deal with Dallas as a free agent this offseason.
A former third-round pick in 2014, the 24-year-old was brought in as a potential reserve at both guard at center. He was still in competition with Joe Looney and others for a roster spot, though, and his minimal one-year contract suggested nothing was guaranteed.
Even if Martin doesn't have surgery, he is almost sure to miss the start of the season. Dallas would likely place him on injured reserve, but still have the option to recall him after Week 8.
Marcus' absence all but guarantees that Looney will return in 2018. This will be his third year in the system and his ability to play center is critical.
In my 53-man roster projection last week, I had both Looney and Martin making the team. So if I had that right, that means a spot has opened up for probably fifth-year veteran Kadeem Edwards, who was playing with the second unit in the preseason opener.
The notorious Chaz Green, who has played guard at times, could also be the beneficiary of the open roster spot.
Damien Mama, an undrafted free agent in 2017 who Dallas added this offseason, is the only other guard currently on the roster. We should get to see more of him as the preseason continues.
Marcus Martin's availability, or lack thereof, and how it ultimately impacts the roster will be determined in the coming weeks.
LB Jaylon Smith 100% Healthy Entering 2018 Season
If you need any more reason to be excited about the Dallas Cowboys upcoming 2018 season, then look no further than their 2016 second-round draft pick, Jaylon Smith. His comeback story from the devastating knee injury he sustained in his last collegiate game at Notre Dame has been well-documented, but recent news suggests his journey has finally come full circle.
Once considered a top-five pick, Smith saw his draft stock plummet due to concerns he may never be able to step foot on the field ever again. Fortunately, the Dallas Cowboys were willing to gamble he would be able to make a full recovery and once again become the player he was with the Fighting Irish.
The long and grueling rehab process couldn't have been easy to endure. Jaylon Smith was forced to pretty much redshirt his rookie season and played on a pitch count Year 2 while he continued to rehab, waiting for nerve regeneration that may never fully heal.
Luckily for him, he joined a team with a really good support system both on and off the field. A support system that just so happened to include his brother, Running Back Rod Smith. It's that support system that could have made a huge difference in his approach to rehab. An approach that may have finally paid off.
All reports indicate Jaylon Smith is 100% healthy once again, or as close to it as possible. Rod Smith, his brother, said Jaylon is back to being as good as he was at Notre Dame. Jaylon however said he is even better than he was. But, they are not the only ones weighing in on Smith's health.
Scouting Director Will McClay went on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio Monday morning and declared LB Jaylon 100 percent healthy from the injury he suffered in college that kept him out his rookie season in 2016 and had him on a pitch count in 2017.
Will McClay isn't the only one that has noticed a difference in Jaylon Smith. Head Coach Jason Garrett has said Smith has grown leaps and bounds from last year and are treating him like a player with no limitations.
"Again, he worked hard in his rehab. Coming into this off-season he was able to take that brace off. I think that's freed him up a little bit," Garrett said.
"And he just looks much more natural. So again, you'll have to ask him that very question, but from our point of view, he looks like he's moving around really well, changing direction really well, making a lot of plays. I think he's gaining more confidence with each day. We really don't have a plan for him right now. He's full-go and ready to practice every day with no limitation."
All of these accounts certainly make it sound like Jaylon Smith's arrow is trending upwards and that he is as healthy as he has been since joining the Dallas Cowboys.
Luckily, we don't have long to see him in action. I don't know about you, but Thursday night when the Cowboys take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Week 1 of the NFL Preseason can't get here soon enough.
Are you excited to see a 100% healthy Jaylon Smith this season?
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