via The Sports Xchange
OXNARD, Calif. — The Dallas Cowboys are going through training camp under a dark cloud regarding running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is still awaiting word from the NFL regarding its year-long investigation into domestic violence claims by a former girlfriend.
Owner Jerry Jones believes a decision is imminent. Jones is confident that Elliott won’t draw a suspension, but no one knows what the league is going to do.
Per reports, a decision on a possible suspension is not expected this week as commissioner Roger Goodell is waiting for four legal advisors to finish their work on the case.
Any suspension would be a huge setback.
Elliott has declined to talk to the media, at least until a decision is announced.
While the league is looking into the domestic violence, he has also made headlines for the wrong reasons such as visiting a marijuana dispensary, exposing a woman’s breast during a St. Patrick’s Day festivity and recently being involved in a bar altercation.
Coach Jason Garrett has talked with Elliott plenty of times regarding his off-field behavior.
Garrett has tried to enlighten Elliott on how his behavior could also be affecting his bottom line.
In an interview with SI.com, Garrett explained his standpoint.
“I’ve asked him, ‘What do you want to be?'” Garrett told the website.
“I’ve had him try to understand the potential paths he could go down, the opportunities he has, on and off the field. They’re off the charts. He’s an infectious, very likable, hard-working kid. My point to him is, ‘If you maximize your abilities, you might be able to make $200 million off the field, like LeBron (James). Or you could make a million.’
“I mean, say you’re AT&T, or you’re Pepsi. You’re looking for a spokesman for your product. What would you do right now? You’d probably say if you’re one of those companies, ‘Oh, we’ll go with Dak. Or we’ll go with Jordan Spieth.’ But that’s in his control.”
Asked if the message resonated with Elliott, Garrett said: “Again, the message is more about being your best and taking full advantage of an opportunity you have.”
What is notable is that Elliott hasn’t let the investigation affect his play and focus in practice.
Garrett said Elliott is very engaged in practice and meetings. It is his escape from the pressure of the investigation.
“Zeke loves football,” Garrett said.
“He studies his stuff hard, he’s very engaged in meetings. He loves taking part in walkthroughs. His walkthroughs aren’t really walkthroughs; he’s always running around. And certainly when he gets to practice, he practices as hard and as well as anybody we have on our football team.”
Elliott needs the work, even if he is the NFL’s reigning rushing champion after gaining 1,631 yards as a rookie. He missed much of training camp last year because of a hamstring issue, getting off to a slow start when the season began.
The reps he is getting now are invaluable for a second-year player; even more so if he is forced to miss a game or two under NFL suspension.
“Reps only help,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “I think the biggest thing is getting those snaps that we can’t get back … these situations, these fronts, these pressures, they come up during the year. It’s very valuable to be able to get the reps.”
The Cowboys plan to make Elliott an even bigger part of the offense this season by giving him a larger role in the passing game.
“I think he can have more production in the passing game for sure,” Linehan said. “That’s one thing we’ve talked about and want to do. We want the ball in his hands any way we can get it to him.