This is feeding time.
Ezekiel Elliott has rushed at least 20 times in the past three games after starting the season with three games under 20 carries. The Dallas Cowboys’ game against the Washington Redskins at 3:25 p.m. Sunday at FedEx Field seems ripe for Elliott to kick into another gear. The last time Elliott faced the Redskins — Oct. 29, 2017 at FedEx Field — he had 150 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 33 carries.
There is plenty to motivate Elliott for a big day in DC. Not only is it a pivotal NFC East game with first place on the line, but one of his rushing heroes will be on the other sideline.
Adrian Peterson, 33, and 10 years older than Elliott, is running with a renewed passion through five games. Peterson already has more than half the yards (339) in five games than he did in 10 a year ago. Peterson is 10th all-time with 12,615 yards and is closing in on Tony Dorsett (12,739 yards) at ninth all-time.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
“That’s definitely a guy I watched growing up. Probably the best back I’ve seen since I’ve played,” Elliott said. “It’s definitely going to be exciting to kind of line up and play against him. I’m looking forward to it.”
Elliott, who is second in the NFL to Todd Gurley with 586 rushing yards in six games, is on pace for 1,563 yards this season. Of course, if he ticks it up a notch in the second half, that number could come closer to reaching his league-leading 1,631 yards as a rookie in 2016.
Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who has seen Peterson up close a bunch during his time coaching in the NFC Central, sees similarities between Peterson and Elliott.
“Oh, yeah. You see a lot,” he said. “They plant and they drive. He gets stronger as the game goes on. Physical, that’s the way Adrian is. I never saw the guy take a down off and I must have played him 10 times. We know every time we play him we have to sprint and we have to pursue and we have to gang tackle. If they had an All-Man Team, he’s first team, because that’s how he plays the game. He is a man.”
Elliott, who typically gets more dangerous later in a game when the defense is tired, has seen Peterson do that over the years.
“He’s going to make you feel it every single play. The one play you’re not bringing your all, that’s the one he’s going to take to the house,” Elliott said. “He’s just a special player.”
Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett said Peterson gets his edge from his desire on every play.
“He has everything you want in a running back. But he also has a tremendous will, and I think anybody who has tried to go against him and tried to tackle him understands that,” he said. “He’s done that really throughout his career.”
Added Marinelli: “He gets those yards you’re not supposed to get. He makes a 4-yard run a 7-yard run. A 1-yard run a 3-yard run. He keeps fighting and twisting and he plants … to me, as a spectator, you want to watch this guy play. He plays hard.”
The same can be said for Elliott, and it might be his time to shine.