‘He’s in the best shape of his life’: Dak Prescott, Cowboys excited for healthier and more explosive Ezekiel Elliott

FRISCO — Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t around this offseason to speak about, well the offseason.

The Cowboys running back didn’t need to speak.

The videos and his teammates spoke for him.

Videos of Elliott working out at SMU with private running backs coach Josh Hicks, dipping and dodging trash cans disguised as defenders showed he can be elusive. Elliott’s footwork through cones displayed lateral movement and that he’s still quick.

The beard and the hair, still long and thick, remains the same.

But is the game the same?

Last year, Elliott rushed for a career-low 979 yards. He averaged a career-low 65.3 yards per game and he gained just 1.9 rushing yards before contact, the lowest in three seasons. Elliott also lost a career-high five fumbles.

He battled calf and hamstring injuries, missing a game due to injury for the first time in his career. Football Outsiders, which provides advanced statistics on NFL players, measured Elliott’s DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) in 2020. The number is a value, per play over an average running back in game situations. Elliott had a -1.0%. His backup, Tony Pollard, was plus 13%. Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, who led the league in rushing with 2,027 yards, had a 15.5% and Dalvin Cook of Minnesota, second in the league in rushing with 1,557 yards, came in at 15.6%. So whether it was basic statistics or advanced, Elliott’s season was below standard.

There is now doubt about whether…

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