Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott ‘lives for these moments’, rested and ready to carry load in playoffs

In case you are wondering, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott feels good.

There are no bumps and bruises and no aches and pains.

While the rest of the Cowboys. including quarterback Dak Prescott, played until the end in the 36-35 victory in the season finale against the New York Giants, Elliott was made inactive for the first time in his career.

The goal was to keep him out of harm’s way and have him fresh, healthy and rested heading into the postseason, which the Cowboys’ hope Saturday’s wild card matchup against the Seattle Seahawks is only just the beginning of something that mind end “super.”

“Knowing going into these playoffs, I’m going to have probably the heaviest workload I’ve had all season so great getting fresh and ready going into this last stretch of the season and ready for what they throw at me,” Elliott said. “I definitely feel very good. Normally after a real game week, I’m not really feeling ready to play until Friday or Saturday but I’m ready to go right now.”

Elliott initially said he wanted to play against the Giants to keep the intensity up and secure his second NFL rushing title.

But the Cowboys decided Saturday before the game that Elliot wasn’t going to play.

“He is more rested than he would be if has played in the game,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He has obviously touched the ball a lot for us. When you the ball 25 to 30 times a game you might get hit 90 to 100 times in a game, particularly a guy like that who makes people miss and breaks tackles. So he carries a big burden for our offense. He embraces that. Anytime we can give him some rest that is a good thing for him, hopefully, he can come back fresher than ever.”

The decision was even sweeter because Elliott rested and still won the rushing title without putting on his uniform. Elliott topped the NFL in rushing for a second time in three years with 1,434 yards, 127 ahead of Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants. He won the title as a rookie in 2016 with 1,631 yards while leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the NFC East East title.

“I think it’s a testament to these guys in this locker room,” Elliott said. “It takes 11 guys out there and these guys have done a great job all season just helping me and putting me in these situations where I could even win that title. Just thank those guys around me, especially the o-line and tight ends who block it. Got to thank those guys.”

That Elliott also led the NFL with 304 carries, 43 more than second-place Barkley also led the Cowboys with 77 receptions for 567 shows how important he is to the offense and how the team plans to lean on him even more in the playoffs.

He said he is healthy, rested and ready — and even more appreciative of his second trip to the postseason and motivated because of last season’s six-game suspension that arguably cost the Cowboys a playoff berth.

They lost in the divisional playoffs to the Green Bay Packers in 2016 and went 3-3 in his absence and finished 9-7 in 2017.

“It’s hard to make the playoffs in the NFL,” Elliott said. “That makes the moment that much more important. I live for these moments. I love it. I can’t wait to go out there and compete Saturday night. I think this team is ready.”

Elliott is certainly fresh, rested and ready.

Clarence E. Hill Jr. :@clarencehilljr
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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.