FRISCO, Texas -- All eyes are always on Ezekiel Elliott when he is on a football field. Even last week when he was unable to practice because of lingering soreness from a car accident on May 21, he was the center of attention.
With Elliott back on the field this week for the Dallas Cowboys' organized team activities, he is sure to draw more attention Wednesday with the media on hand.
Elliott’s importance to the Cowboys' offense cannot be overstated. He led the NFL in rushing last season with 1,631 yards, and he feels like he could have done more. He played in only 15 games because the coaches held him out of the regular-season finale. He got off to a somewhat slow start in his first two games but then went on a tear that allowed him to set the franchise rookie record for rushing yards and touchdowns (15) in a season.
Elliott believes he can be a better second-level runner in 2017. He also wants to be involved more in the passing game after he caught 32 passes for 363 yards and a touchdown last season. In each of DeMarco Murray’s final two seasons with the Cowboys, he caught more than 50 passes. Murray essentially didn’t come off the field. The Cowboys don’t have a true third-down back this season, so Elliott could be asked to do more -- and seeing how he is incorporated into the passing game Wednesday could be a sign of things to come.
What else is there to watch in Wednesday’s OTAs?
Nolan Carroll worked with the first team Tuesday after he was arrested on suspicion of DWI early Monday morning. The Cowboys have liked everything about Carroll since signing him -- and they looked to sign him in 2016, too -- but are disappointed in what happened over the holiday weekend. Will Carroll speak Wednesday? Will the Cowboys move their cornerbacks -- such as Anthony Brown and rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis -- to begin looking at how to handle a potential suspension of Carroll to start the season?
What will the defensive line rotation look like? Tyrone Crawford did not take part in team drills last week but said he hoped to do some this week. Does he line up mostly at defensive end or defensive tackle? First-round pick Taco Charlton took first-team snaps at right defensive end last week and got to work against All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith. How will Charlton fare this week in his matchups against Smith?
Last week, rookie Ryan Switzer stole a lot of the show offensively with his work in the absences of Cole Beasley and Lucky Whitehead because of hamstring strains. Will Switzer be as noticeable again? Or will receivers like Brice Butler, Andy Jones and rookie Noah Brown make more of an impression?
Chaz Green was drafted in the third round in 2015 with the idea of him being the right tackle of the future once Doug Free retired. Free has retired, but Green has been beset by injuries. He didn’t work last week on the field. The Cowboys want to give La'el Collins all the work they can at right tackle, so Green will have to impress in his second-team work to earn more of a shot to prove he is among the Cowboys’ five best offensive linemen.