Time flies during an NFL season. Following the Cowboys' 24-6 home win against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, quarterback Dak Prescott was praising running back Ezekiel Elliott for his toughness. Now according to a report from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Elliott suffered a grade 2 MCL sprain in his right knee and a "painful" deep thigh bruise in the second quarter of Week 7, and the team plans to hold him out of their Week 8 home game against the Chicago Bears with their bye coming in Week 9. That would give the running back three weeks to heal up prior to their Week 10 game at Lambeau Field against the Packers, head coach Mike McCarthy's homecoming to Green Bay. Elliott finished their game in Week 8 with 57 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. The play below where Elliott took a helmet directly to that knee likely played a factor in this diagnosis.
Not only did Elliott stay in the game after that play, he hurdled a Lions' defender a quarter later.
"He actually was practicing the hurdle in practice," Prescott said postgame on Sunday. "He didn't jump over him, but he did the whole slow-feet stutter, and I'm like, 'I'll bet he jumps a guy this week,' and sure enough, it just happened. He's relentless. When I saw the play, I thought it was a little ugly. I'm like, 'I hope he's fine.' Ran over to the sideline, he said he'll be good, and it wasn't too long before he was jumping a guy. That's Zeke for you."
Head coach Mike McCarthy said Elliott will not participate in practice on Wednesday and work on rehabbing his injured knee.
Last season, he suffered a torn PCL in his right knee in Week 4 against the Carolina Panthers and played the rest of the season with the injury. He played all 18 games, including the playoff loss against the San Francisco 49ers and rushed for over 1,000 yards for the fourth time in his six-season career. Elliott leads the NFL in carries (1,845) and rushing yards (8,187) since being drafted fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.
"That shows his toughness," Prescott said when asked about how Elliott stayed in the game despite the helmet-to-knee collision in the second quarter. "When he got himself better and got himself healthy, I saw it in the spring, just the bounce in his step, the way he's moving, the cuts he's made. Even when he got hurt, that's a guy trying to cut back in and make a play that he knows he can make. He's impressive, just his approach each and every day, the way he goes about it."
Now, the Cowboys will go with Tony Pollard, their fourth round pick in the 2020 Draft, as the starting running back in Elliott's absence. The supercharged backup has averaged 6.2 yards per scrimmage touch since the start of last season, the most among 40 running backs around the league with over 200 touches in that span. Dallas lists undrafted, third-year player Rico Dowdle as the only other running back on the depth chart after Elliott, which could mean the team may be active in adding another rusher to increase their options at the position.