Connect with us

Player News

Ezekiel Elliott: Ready For A Rigorous Workload

We live in an age of instant information. This instant information brings instant reaction, and sometimes this reaction can be over the top. Okay, most of the time the reaction is over the top; especially when it comes to our Dallas Cowboys. This is why whenever the Cowboys do anything, I try to temper my expectations and take a deep breath before reacting. But when the Dallas Cowboys used their fourth overall selection to take running back Ezekiel Elliott, all of this normal breathing went out the window.

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Cowboys Headlines - Ezekiel Elliott Dominates Preliminary Madden Rookie Ratings

We live in an age of instant information. This instant information brings instant reaction, and sometimes this reaction can be over the top. Okay, most of the time the reaction is over the top; especially when it comes to our Dallas Cowboys.

This is why whenever the Cowboys do anything, I try to temper my expectations and take a deep breath before reacting.

But when the Dallas Cowboys used their fourth overall selection to take running back Ezekiel Elliott, all of this normal breathing went out the window.

Seemingly insane projections and predictions for what Ezekiel Elliott might do in his rookie season began to be given by experts and fans alike. We heard it all, from Rookie of the Year to breaking the rookie rushing record to Zeke even having to take somewhere around 300 carries.

The thing is, these projections aren't ridiculous at all, and for the Dallas Cowboys to be successful in 2016, many of them must be fulfilled.

Before you start thinking I'm putting too much on a rookie, hear me out.

David Helman of DallasCowboys.com recently projected Ezekiel Elliott's carries in 2016 to fall between the 280-300 range.

If it seems like a lot, that's because it is a lot

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: Training Camp Position Battles 2

May 25, 2016; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) and running back Alfred Morris (46) during organized team activities at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, only two running backs in the entire NFL had more than 280 carries, and only five running backs had more than 260 carries; but we are going to ask a rookie to rush upwards of 300 times?

While it is a bit of a daunting number, it will only take Elliott about 15-20 rushes per game to get to that 280 mark. If the Cowboys can get 18 from Ezekiel Elliott, and another 20 from the combination of Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris, they will be in business.

There are those who are worried that Ezekiel Elliott could be put on pace for a DeMarco Murray-like collapse early in his career if asked to do too much too early. Many are now beginning to believe the Cowboys ran Murray into the ground during 2014, after seeing his lackluster performance in Philadelphia a season ago. While there may be some truth to this, Murray rushed a total of 392 times that season. That's about 100 more carries than I expect from Elliott.

100 is a big difference, in case you weren't sure.

While Zeke's workload will be great, it should be nowhere near what Murray's was in 2014, if for no other reason than there are other viable options at running back. We saw McFadden be productive behind this offensive line last season, and Alfred Morris is no slouch himself.

280 carries is in line with comparable rookie backs

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Loaded Backfield Left Off Of NFLN's Top 5

07 May 2016: Ezekiel Elliott (21)
of the Dallas Cowboys during rookie minicamp at the Cowboys headquarters in Irving, Texas. Photo by Sam Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Three of the most prominent top-10 running backs of the past decade - Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, and Trent Richardson - all saw rushing attempt totals somewhere around this projected "Zeke Range."

Gurley, who missed significant time after coming off an ACL tear, rushed 229 times his rookie season. Had he played the entire year, I am willing to bet he would've been up around that 280 range.

Trent Richardson had 267 carries his rookie year, and Adrian Peterson had 238. While both players were under 280, Ezekiel Elliott's current situation is a bit different considering the offensive line he will be playing behind, and the hopeful chances to milk clocks and ice games late that he will have.

Oh, and Ezekiel Elliott has done it before

Cowboys Headlines - It's Not Over, Cowboys Just Took the Most Difficult Route to '16 Success 1

Ezekiel Elliott mixed with the Cowboys offensive line would give Dallas an extremely difficult rushing attack to figure out

Granted, it was at the college level, but Ezekiel Elliott still tallied 289 carries for 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns last season at Ohio State, in just 13 games. While he will face a much more brutal pounding from NFL defenses, Zeke has proven that he has the durability and toughness to withstand the high demands and rigorous workload.

Let's revisit that Murray comparison...

DeMarco Murray suffered a laundry list of injuries throughout his career in Dallas. He spent nearly half of the 2011 season on the injured reserve, and even in 2014 we saw Murray injure his hand. At Oklahoma, he dislocated his knee cap on a freakish play in 2007, and suffered a few hamstring injuries going into the 2009 season.

Ezekiel Elliott, on the other hand, has been virtually injury-free his entire college career. I don't want to jinx anything, but I do want to highlight that Elliott has shown a level of durability which Murray may not have during his college years. This durability will help him to carry that high workload.

So, yes, Ezekiel Elliott is going to see a ton of carries his rookie season; partly out of necessity, and partly because of his own special abilities. But don't worry, he will be just fine.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

Advertisement
Comments

Player News

BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Rico Gathers

Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.

Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.

The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.

While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.

The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.

Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.



Continue Reading

Player News

Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started

Matthew Lenix

Published

on

Antwaun Woods is just getting started

Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.

The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.

All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.

Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.

How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.

When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.

Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.

There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.

The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.



Continue Reading

Player News

Cedrick Wilson: Cowboys WR Could Shine After a Year Off

Matthew Lenix

Published

on

Cedrick Wilson could shine after a year off

The departure of Cole Beasley to Buffalo via free agency in March left a hole at the slot receiver position in Dallas. The team signed veteran Randall Cobb about a week later, but only to a one year deal. Names like Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns along with Cobb are looked at as the replacement for Beasley but don't forget about Cedrick Wilson.

Selected in the sixth round in 2018, Wilson was coming off an impressive and highly productive two-year career at Boise State. Tallying 139 receptions for 2,640 yards and 18 touchdowns in just 26 games.

When OTA's began last season, the rookie was already turning heads with his route running, ability to create separation and athleticism, but unfortunately, disaster happened not long afterward. Wilson would suffer a shoulder injury that placed him on injured reserve for 2018, the same shoulder he had issues with in college. A not so fairy tale beginning to an NFL career.

Although his time on the field was short-lived last summer, he definitely caught the eye of wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal.

"Ced's a savvy, smart football player. He picks things up really well. He applies them to the field. In terms of technique, he's one of the best if you watch him. His stance and start is really good. He comes off the ball with low pad level. He's eating up ground and then has a nack to make a big play over the top on a big post," Lal said.

Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb make up a very formidable receiving core, and adding a healthy Wilson to that could work wonders. His experience on the outside and the slot gives offensive coordinator Kellen Moore plenty of options. Slot receivers are usually harder to bump off the line with the extra few yards of cushion they get, giving them more options route wise seeing as they can go inside or out a lot easier than outside receivers. That's where Wilson's supreme route running can come into play. Also, with his ability to separate on the outside and beat corners deep, you can play him opposite Amari Cooper and put Cobb in the slot with a combination of either Gallup, Austin or Hurns in a four-wide receiver set, the possibilities are endless.

A setback can be a blessing in disguise if approached in the right manner. Wilson hasn't let the year off derail his focus on what he's trying to do in Dallas.

"Coming back off the rehab was tough in general. But definitely a year of just seeing how everything goes, the speed is definitely slowing down. Just getting back in the playbook and learning from older guys of what I need to do and doing what the coaches expect of me," Wilson said.

The competition won't be easy for Wilson, though, as other young up and coming receivers are fighting for roster spots as well. UDFA's (Undrafted Free Agents) Jon'Vea Johnson and Jalen Guyton will also be fighting for snaps during mini-camp, with the former already making waves during OTA's. Reggie Davis has also turned a few heads in the summer, a fellow UDFA himself trying to find a home after bouncing around the league between four different teams since 2017.

It's all about health for Cedrick Wilson at this point. Can his shoulder hold up enough to allow his skill set to make a contribution to the Cowboys in 2019? The talent is there, along with the praises of his position coach, now it'll be interesting to see if this potential diamond in the rough can shine under the bright lights of AT&T Stadium.



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending