Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott called his NFL debut “average.” Average isn’t the description he or the team expect to use much considering he’s the fourth overall pick running behind arguably the top offensive line in the game.
Asked to assess his debut, Elliott said: “I think I was average, you know. Average. That’s not why I was brought here to be average, so we’ve got a lot of work to get done. A lot to work on. But, you know, it’s the NFL. You can’t win every game, so I’ve just got to get back to work and get better next week.”
Elliott finished his day with 51 rushing yards on 20 carries. The 2.6 yard per carry average is well less than half of what he averaged at Ohio State (6.7 yards per carry).
Elliott’s best runs came early in the third quarter with a pair of 8-yard runs on the same drive, including an 8-yard TD run. Elliott went up the middle and dove into the end zone for the score, and was immediately congratulated by the offensive line.
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“Just my read, came inside, saw the bounces and got in the end zone,” Elliott said of his TD.
Elliott also had one catch for one yard, and held his own in pass protection.
Still, it wasn’t the debut most had expected from the favorite to win the league’s offensive rookie of the year honors.
“I was hoping to have a better day for sure,” Elliott said. “The type of guy I am, the type of competitor I am, I’m a little bit disappointed. But you’ve got to start somewhere. All we can do is get better from here.
“We didn’t play terrible today. We had a lot of chances to win the game. We didn’t score in the red zone. We’ve got to punch it in in the red zone. But, I mean, just got to get better.”
Elliott said his NFL debut felt like a normal game, and he didn’t have any nerves going into it. He fully intends to become the kind of player he was at Ohio State when he rushed for more than 1,800 yards his final two seasons.
Owner Jerry Jones saw that promise as well, despite the underwhelming debut.
“I thought he was running hard,” Jones said. “He was, of course, physical. They were determined to stop our run and did, to some degree. ... But I was not at all disappointed with him.”