Ezekiel Elliott practicing in preparation for playing Week 1
FRISCO, Texas -- With his eligibility to play beyond Week 1 against the New York Giants in question, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was on the practice field on Wednesday for the only padded practice of the week.
"He seems very focused, locked in on meetings, the walk-through," coach Jason Garrett said. "We'll have a good practice today. He's done an excellent job in his preparation."
Elliott's six-game suspension was upheld by arbitrator Harold Henderson on Tuesday night, but because of the timing of the announcement, he will be allowed to play Sunday. A U.S. District Court judge will make a ruling Friday on the injunction Elliott is seeking to prevent the NFL's discipline.
Garrett did not speak with Elliott after the rulings on Tuesday, but they spoke Wednesday morning.
The Cowboys say their preparation for the game has not changed. They had been preparing Elliott all summer as if he would be able to play against the Giants and said they were ready to alter course with Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and Rod Smith had the suspension taken effect immediately.
"He was not able to be at the walk-through that we had at the end of the day [Tuesday], but he's really been at everything else," Garrett said. "Last week when he went up to New York prior to the Houston game that we were supposed to play he missed those days, but other than that he's been here and doing everything we've asked him to do, and he's done an excellent job in his preparation."
Multiple players said they had not been paying attention to the case on Tuesday before the ruling but were hoping for the best for Elliott.
"I think the biggest thing for all of us is to focus on what we need to do each and every day," Garrett said. "That's been a point that we've tried to emphasize to our team for a long, long time. Our team understands the importance of that. in order to be your best, you've got to focus on yourself and what you need to do in your preparation to play your best football. So that's really where our focus is. We don't spend a lot of time on other stuff."
Quarterback Dak Prescott said he is glad Elliott will play against the Giants because of the effect it will have on the Giants' defense.
"It opens up so much in the passing game and play-action, so it'll be good," Prescott said.
Prescott was hesitant to delve into Elliott's psyche as he prepares for this game knowing he could be out until Nov. 5 if he does not earn an injunction against the NFL's ruling.
"I can't get in somebody else's mind. I can't tell you what he's thinking or how he's doing, but I know he's being positive," Prescott said. "He's optimistic. It's little what he can do now. He's just doing a good job moving forward, having a good attitude, good spirit when he comes to work."
When asked what he can do to help Elliott through the process, Prescott said, "I guess I can just remind him of the reason why he's so good. And the moment he walks in here, he's locked in and football is the only thing that's on his mind. I can tell you when he's in here in this locker room or he's at practice or in that film room that none of that outside world is going through his head. So I just remind him of that."
Fullback Keith Smith said the focus of the team is only on the Giants, not Week 2 and beyond.
"The ruling or whatever didn't go in his or in our favor, so it is what it is," Smith said. "But all we can do is just rely on everybody who's here now."