Ronnie Hillman signing unrelated to Ezekiel Elliott, Jason Garrett says

Cowboys sign Hillman in preparation for Zeke decision (1:18)

Adam Schefter explains why the Cowboys signed veteran RB Ronnie Hillman in anticipation of the NFL's pending decision on disciplining Ezekiel Elliott. (1:18)

OXNARD, California -- The Dallas Cowboys' decision to sign veteran running back Ronnie Hillman had nothing to do with a potential suspension of Ezekiel Elliott, according to head coach Jason Garrett.

"It really has everything to do with Jahad [Thomas'] situation," Garrett said, referring to Thomas' hamstring injury. "Jahad, we thought he was going to be healthy and ready to go for training camp, and he was one day into it [and unable to stay healthy], and so we had to get another running back in here."

Thomas is an undrafted free agent. He has been slowed by a hamstring strain since joining the team. With Thomas out and Darren McFadden not practicing every day because of his veteran status, the Cowboys have had to give Rod Smith and Alfred Morris more work with the backups than they wanted.

Elliott and the Cowboys are awaiting possible discipline for an alleged domestic violence issue involving a former girlfriend in Columbus, Ohio. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Sunday that he feels, after reviewing what he knows about the situation, "it has nothing to do with domestic violence."

Speaking on SiriusXM Radio on Thursday, Jones says he believes an NFL decision on Elliott is "imminent."

Elliott has not met with the media since training camp began, but Garrett said the talk of a potential suspension has not appeared to affect last year's rushing champion early on in training camp.

"Zeke loves football," Garrett said. "He studies his stuff hard, he's very engaged in meetings. He loves taking part of walk-throughs. His walk-throughs aren't really walk-throughs. He's always running around, and certainly when he gets to practice he practices as hard and as well as anybody we have on our football team."

Hillman's best season came in 2015 with the Denver Broncos. He started 11 of 16 games with 863 yards and seven touchdowns. He spent time last season with the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers.

He worked out for the Cowboys last week.

"Just speed and a pass-catching back," Hillman said. "I can do it all. Just play my role."

With the departure of Lance Dunbar via free agency, the Cowboys do not have a smaller, shifty back. They have hopes of using rookie receiver Ryan Switzer some in that role. Switzer, however, injured his hamstring in Thursday's practice.

"I remember watching him in playoff games and playing with the Denver offense that was so prolific," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said of Hillman. "He's still young. He's going to bring some really good experience in this league. He's a different style back, size and style. So he's going to be able to add a dimension for us and we'll see. We're going to let him absorb our offense a little bit before we get him right in the fire, but we're excited what he brings to us."