Dallas Cowboys

Who needs camp? Ezekiel Elliott enjoying best to start career, could explode on Miami

Running back Ezekiel Elliott is currently eighth in the league in rushing after two games with 164 yards on 36 carries for the undefeated Dallas Cowboys (2-0).

The numbers seem modest.

This is the best two-game start ever for the two-time rushing champ, who has actually led the league in yards per game every year since joining the Cowboys with the fourth overall pick in 2016.

So clearly the best is yet to come for Elliott who admittedly is still rusty after missing all of training camp and the preseason in a contract holdout before signing a six-year, $90 million extension four days before the season opener.

“I mean, it’s been productive the first two weeks, but there is still stuff I can improve on,” Elliott said. “I did take care of business when I was gone, but that was expected. I’ve just got to keep getting better week in and week out and become a better football player.

“Just getting in the flow of things. Just getting the flow of football and just being used to be being out there. I mean, that’s just the biggest thing.”

True to his word, Elliott got himself in good shape while training in Cabo during his holdout. The issue for him was getting used to playing football again.

Considering he is a notorious slow starter, Elliott is still way ahead of the game.

He had 41 carries for 131 yards and two touchdowns the first two games of his rookie season, 33 carries for 112 yards and no touchdowns the first two games his second season and 32 carries for 147 yards and two touchdowns the first two games last season.

“He is still a little rusty,” running back coach Gary Brown said. “We all know he is going to get to where he needs to be. It reminds me of his rookie year when he missed time with the hamstring in camp, came out rusty the first two games and then took off on the third game. It puts me in that mindset.”

Elliott played 53 snaps in the 31-21 win against the Washington Redskins after 37 snaps in the 35-17 opening win against the Giants when he had played after just four days of practice.

He got better as the game went on against the Redskins and had a 27 yard run in the fourth quarter to help seal the win, giving him 111 yards on the day to record the 20th 100-yard game of his career.

“Yeah, Zeke did a good job in the game,” Brown said. “I thought he handled his work well last week in the Giants game. We ramped him up a little bit, and I thought he handled it well. He’s practiced well, leading up to these games. He was a big part of how we finished up the game yesterday, a big factor in a couple of those late drives. It’s really important for us to be able to finish the game in the right way, and he’s the guy to hand the ball to. I thought he finished the game strong.”

If Elliott is going to build off the Redskins game and truly take off in the third game as he has done in the past, then Sunday’s matchup against the winless Miami Dolphins is the right time and place.

The Dolphins have the league’s worst run defense, giving up 195.5 yards per game while being outscored 102-10 in losses to the Ravens and Patriots.

Neither of those teams have a running back or offensive line that can match Elliott and the Cowboys.

In other words, look out.

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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.
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