Ezekiel Elliott relies on hurdling to avoid getting hit in the knees

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Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will appear on the cover of a magazine while wearing no covering on his body. He’s the featured athlete in this year’s edition of the ESPN The Magazine “body issue,” which features “all nude, tastefully done” photos of various athletes.

In the press release announcing the placement of Elliott on the cover of the issue, ESPN included some quotes from Elliott, the most interesting of which relates to his habit of hurdling. Though he doesn’t say it directly, the clear message is that he’s trying to avoid taking low hits to the knee.

“One of my signature things is to hurdle people,” Elliott says. “I think it’s one of the most impressive physical feats I’m able to do, being a bigger, physical running back. I don’t have the highest vertical, but I think it’s more of a mental thing. Being a bigger running back, defensive backs will go lower on you — they tend to cut-tackle you. I just kind of gives them the aspect where they have to worry about me jumping over them and right through them; it adds an aspect to my game. I ran hurdles in high school. I was a really good hurdler.”

To continue to be a really good running back, Elliott needs to be durable. Which means it will be important for him to avoid taking the kind of hits that could make mincemeat of his knees.