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Cowboys prepared to lean on Ezekiel Elliott

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Magic to Elliott: 'Get your life together' (1:37)

Magic Johnson makes an impassioned plea to Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott to change. (1:37)

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys weren’t shy in how they used Ezekiel Elliott in Sunday’s season-opening win against the New York Giants.

Elliott played in 60 of the Cowboys’ 74 offensive snaps, or 81 percent.

As a rookie in 2016, Elliott played in a higher percentage of snaps on just four occasions. He played in 90.7 percent against the Green Bay Packers, 83 percent in the first matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings and 82 percent in the second meeting against the Washington Redskins.

Elliott had 24 carries for 104 yards. He had only three games as a rookie with more carries, topping out at 30 against the Chicago Bears in Week 3. Against the Giants, he caught a career-high five passes for 36 yards.

When Elliott’s suspension was announced on Aug. 11, the Cowboys weren’t sure they were going to have him for the first six games but they prepared as if he would be available for the opener and they weren’t shy about using him.

With the NFL filing for expedited appeals and asking for stays of a court’s decision, it is possible, though not likely, Elliott could serve the suspension at some point this season. Speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he only expects Elliott to play Sunday against the Denver Broncos. He did not speculate whether Elliott would be available beyond that.

But if Elliott is available, Jones thinks the Giants game was a baseline of how much work the running back will get each week in 2017.

“Zeke, he just dials it up,” Jones said on The Fan. “When it's time to go, he goes. I think that it set expectations in a way for Zeke that -- I'm not implying he didn't have -- and that is that we're going to use him on a lot of plays. He's going to get a lot of carries. He's going to get a lot of plays in the passing game.

"We need Zeke on the field. And so to the extent that in any way that that impacts him mentally as getting ready, conditioning, any of those things, I think this is what you're going to see. Last year, if I had anything to add to what he did last year, I would have wanted him on the field more plays than he played even last year.”