Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott returns to practice after suspension

FRISCO, Texas -- Ezekiel Elliott was glad to be on the practice field with his Dallas Cowboys teammates for the first time since Nov. 3.

"It was great. The energy was high," Elliott said Wednesday. "I missed all the guys. They missed me, and we're excited to continue the season."

He would not discuss what he did to remain in shape in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, during his six-week suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

"I'm not really going to talk about it. It's behind me," Elliott said of the suspension. "I'm just trying to start a new page, a new chapter. I just want to thank this Cowboys organization for being behind me.

"I'm thankful to my family, my team, my friends for supporting me through the time and especially the Cowboys fans who stuck by me through this tough time and have a lot of faith in me. But I'm not talking about it anymore. This is the last time you'll hear me speak about it. So please don't even ask me about it."

When pressed again as to why he didn't want to talk about his time in Cabo, Elliott said, "All right, I'm done. Thank you."

While he was short with his comments, Elliott's teammates were more than happy to discuss his return.

"He knows what's important, and that's the game of football," quarterback Dak Prescott said. "So I'm sure, like I said, I know it motivated him just watching the game and watching his teammates and his boys go out there and play. Obviously, him wanting to be out there, I know it lit a fire in him. And just seeing him in the way he's been performing in coming back, you can tell."

Prescott said Elliott was taking all of his runs 20 or 30 yards down the field in Wednesday's practice. He said Elliott's pass protection was good.

"He obviously brings a lot of energy, and it's great to have him back," right guard Zack Martin said. "He looks in great shape, looks ready to go, so it'll be exciting to see him play on Sunday.

Coach Jason Garrett wants to see how the running back handles practice before he commits to how much work Elliott will get against Seattle.

In the four games before his suspension, Elliott had no fewer than 26 carries, no fewer than 93 yards and had five rushing touchdowns. It was the most carries (115) he had in a four-game stretch in his brief career.

"He's capable of doing anything we'd ask him to do at the running back position," Garrett said. "He's obviously a really good runner. He's a good receiver. He's a good protector. He can play in any situation. We'll work through this week and see what he's able to do in this game plan."

The Cowboys' running game without Elliott was solid, averaging 121 yards per game. Alfred Morris ran for 430 yards on 99 carries, including 127 yards against the Redskins, in Elliott's absence. Rod Smith had 43 carries for 153 yards and had rushing touchdowns in four straight games.

"We'll certainly get Alfred ready; we'll certainly keep Rod ready," Garrett said. "Those guys have done a really nice job handling the situation throughout when Zeke was here early on in the season, getting prepared for their opportunities, and then, when he wasn't here, taking advantage of their chances to play. All hands on deck."

In eight games, Elliott ran 191 times for 783 yards and seven touchdowns. He caught 19 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Despite missing six games, Elliott is still 16th in the league in rushing, and his seven rushing touchdowns are tied for fifth-most in the NFL.

"He's obviously a really good football player and a big part of that is the mentality that he brings," Garrett said. "And he brings it every day whether it's a walkthrough, a practice or on Sunday for three hours. He just plays with the right demeanor. He loves to play football. He loves working at it and again [we're] excited to have him back."