INDIANAPOLIS Ezekiel Elliott touched the ball 354 times last season, but the Cowboys aren’t worried about his workload.
"Well, he certainly handled the opportunities we gave him really well, both as a runner, blocker and as a receiver," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We thought he got better and better as the game went on and really as the year went on as well. I thought he handled it really well. He’s one of those players you want to have on the field, you want to give opportunities because he makes such a big difference to your football team."
Elliott had 322 carries and 32 receptions in 716 offensive snaps in the regular season. He played another 56 snaps with 23 touches in the postseason.
(DeMarco Murray had 449 touches on 782 snaps in 2014 for the Cowboys.)
Elliott gained a league-leading 1,631yards. He had more carries, more yards and a higher average in the second half than the first, though it was close.
He gained 833 yards and scored seven touchdowns on 166 first-half carries – a 5.02 average per carry – and 922 yards and eight touchdowns on 178 carries in the second-half and overtime – a 5.18 average per carry.
Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, the league’s all-time leading rusher, said Elliott still has room for improvement as a receiver. The Cowboys, though, couldn’t be happier with the fourth overall pick from last season.
What the Cowboys saw before the draft is what they got on the field this season.
"We just thought he was a great football player," Garrett said. "If you look at his career, all the way back to high school, his time at Ohio State, he had such an impact on the game. We got such great reports on the kind of guy he was, how much he loved football, how hard he worked at it. His production spoke for itself. If you watched him on tape, he was the most dominant player on the field week in and week out. He made such a difference for their team. He did so many things, not only as a runner but as a receiver and as a blocker. There’s so much to like about him."