From all accounts Ezekiel Elliott kept himself in great shape during his excursion to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, while his contract was being worked out.
The Dallas Cowboys paid him, but they are not going to overwork their $90 million running back right away.
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The plan for Elliott in Week 1 against the New York Giants is about 20-25 snaps, according to Jane Slater of NFL Network. Rookie Tony Pollard, who looked good in the preseason, will back him up.
That makes sense. Running on the beach in Cabo isn’t the same as being in football shape. Of course, it might be hard for the Cowboys to keep Elliott on a pitch count if Sunday’s game is close.
Ezekiel Elliott rarely comes off the field
Having limited snaps will be entirely new for Elliott, one of the NFL’s rare workhorse backs.
Elliott never played fewer than 49 snaps in a game last season, according to Pro Football Reference. He also never played fewer than 76.8 percent of Dallas’ snaps in any game. Elliott isn’t used to standing next to Jason Garrett on the sideline when the Cowboys’ offense is on the field.
It’s a long season, and the Cowboys want Elliott at his best throughout. That he can sign on Wednesday and even play 20-25 snaps on Sunday says something about the Cowboys’ belief that he has kept himself in great shape. He’ll be back to his normal workload soon enough.
Dallas has easy schedule to start
Dallas has the luxury of easing Elliott back in. Not that any NFL opponent is easy, but the Cowboys get the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins the first three weeks. They probably would have been expected to win all three of those games even if Elliott’s holdout hadn’t ended.
Elliott will end up being among the league leaders in carries, even if it takes a week or two to get back to a normal workload. That was actually part of the risk in giving him such a big deal. He had a lot of miles for someone still on his rookie deal.
Dallas presumably feels they are Super Bowl contenders, and had to make Elliott happy to keep the train moving. Elliott got his money. He’ll get his carries before long, too.
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