FRISCO, Texas – Jason Garrett’s message to the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday, their first day without Ezekiel Elliott: Life goes on.
As Elliott looks for legal avenues to delay the six-game suspension, the Cowboys are holding their first full-padded practice without their leading rusher. During the open portion of practice to the media, Alfred Morris took the first hand off from Dak Prescott, but Jason Garrett said the Cowboys will use Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith in Elliott’s absence.
“We have great confidence in those guys,” Garrett said. “They’ve had success in this league. Obviously Alfred is someone who’s been very productive as a runner in this league. Darren was very productive for us a couple years ago and we feel really good about Rod Smith and how he’s developed and the role that he can play for us. All of those guys will play and we’ll just keep going down the road.”
Per suspension rules, Elliott cannot be around the team, however he can have contact with the strength and conditioning coaches and athletic trainers. Garrett said the last time he spoke with Elliott was after last Sunday’s win against the Washington Redskins. Elliott flew from Washington D.C. to New York for his hearing. A judge denied his request for a preliminary injunction and he is now appealing to the Second Circuit.
The NFL Players Association will ask for an expedited hearing, however, the earliest it would be heard is early next week.
The Cowboys have prepared for the possibility of not having Elliott since the summer. The suspension was initially handed down in the preseason but he won an injunction that kept him on the field. After that was stayed by an appeals court, he was suspended again but that lasted just one day when he won a temporary restraining order.
Without Elliott, the Cowboys will have a different look offensively, but stylistically they want to remain the same, leaning on the run. What Garrett does not want is players like Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant and the running backs to feel as if they need to do more.
“The most important thing you can do in football is go out and do your job,” Garrett said. “There’s 11 guys on each play that have a job and a responsibility to do. What we try to do as coaches is emphasize the importance of everybody doing their job to their fullest. And we’ll continue to do that.”