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Even if temporary, Cowboys will take any win when it comes to Ezekiel Elliott

The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott, who has rushed for 393 yards and two TDs in five games this season, for Sunday's game. AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

FRISCO, Texas -- Ezekiel Elliott can play on. At least for Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers and potentially Oct. 29 against the Washington Redskins.

Beyond that, nobody knows. A judge blocked his suspension on Tuesday and there will be more time in front of a judge before it can be determined if Elliott will play the remainder of the season.

This is good news for the Dallas Cowboys, even if it is only temporary.

At 2-3, the Cowboys need their best player to play as many games as possible, including against a winless team Sunday, like the 49ers.

Elliott is coming off his best quarter of the season -- 13 carries, 85 yards -- against the Green Bay Packers. He looked more like the running back that finished as the NFL's leader in rushing yards in 2016 and became the heartbeat of a Dallas team that finished 13-3.

For most of the 2017 season, however, things have been a struggle for Elliott, who has run for 393 yards on 105 carries in the first five games. Whether that's because of the pending suspension, subsequent litigation, lack of efficient blocking, better opposing defenses or his misreads after he gets the ball, it doesn't matter. He simply has not been as effective and the Cowboys have as many losses in five games that they had in 16 a year ago.

But if Elliott continues the way he closed the fourth quarter against Green Bay, then the Cowboys can remain in the muddled NFC playoff chase even if only the Chicago Bears, New York Giants and Niners have worse records in the conference.

Since the suspension was announced in August, teammates have not been caught up in the "Can he play?" or "Can't he play?" question. While they know they are a better team with Elliott, they simply compartmentalize the information with the athletes' "control what we can control," credo. They can't control Elliott's fate, so they don't let it consume them.

If Elliott was out Sunday, the Cowboys were prepared to go with Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith as their running backs. From the coaches to the players, they expressed confidence in their ability to move the ball on the ground if Elliott could not play. Like Elliott, the offensive line had its best quarter of the season against the Packers, whether the box was stacked with eight defenders or not.

Since the Cowboys have not gone into their heavy lifting for their prep work on San Francisco, nothing was lost on Tuesday. Coach Jason Garrett has said a game plan for Elliott is the same for Morris, McFadden or Smith. The focus on Wednesday is mostly the running game, which is why players are in full pads.

Elliott's eligibility this week will likely mean Morris continues in his role with a couple of snaps a game, Smith as a backup third-down back and McFadden likely will be inactive for the sixth straight game.

Perhaps there will be a similar inevitability to Elliott's case as it was with Tom Brady, who played in 2015 for the New England Patriots only to be forced to sit the first four games last season.

Elliott could have to miss six games eventually, either in two weeks, later this season or next season.

His side is hoping to do what he did so well in 2016: run the clock for as long as possible and help the Cowboys win games.