Stephen Jones expects Ezekiel Elliott to return lighter

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Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones expects running back Ezekiel Elliott to return lighter and not just in his wallet. While the front office and coaching staff can’t have contact with Elliott, the Cowboys approved of his plan to leave the country and get in even better shape.

Elliott spent at least part of his six-game suspension in Cabo, Mexico. He can return to the team facility next week and play in the Christmas Eve game against the Seahawks.

“We . . . understood that he was going to get away and really focus on getting himself in better shape,” Jones said on the Doomsday Podcast with Matt Mosley and Ed Werder. “I think he was playing a little heavier than he did last year. I think he was wanting to lose some weight and really recommit himself to the game. Obviously, serving the suspension, you could argue that it was a little on the heavy side, but in spite of all that, he made some poor decisions, and he paid a price for it. I think he understands that and he wants to be committed to the game and be one of the great players to play the game and certainly he can do that if he has his commitment and he’s accountable to what he can be. We really don’t know anything about where he is at this point. Our expectation is that he comes back ready to play and hopefully even better than when he left, so if he can do that and we get us a big win against Oakland, then certainly we feel like that we can run the table.”

In his last four games, Elliott had 115 carries for 506 yards, three catches for 92 yards and six total touchdowns. His 783 rushing yards in only eight games still ranks 10th in the NFL.

The Cowboys are 2-3 in Elliott’s absence.

The Cowboys have had more than their share of players suspended in recent seasons. Coach Jason Garrett has argued the NFL does suspended players no favors by banning them from the team facility. (Players suspended for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy are allowed to continue to attend meetings and work out at the team facility.)

“There is a school of thought that the players would be better off in a football environment, in and around the football team, but just not able to play the games,” Jones said. “And of course, we do that with some of the suspensions. . . . I think it’s debatable. It’s obviously the way the rule is today, is that we can’t have contact with him. You know we would probably be in the school of thought that he would be better off training and being around his teammates everyday and being in a football environment where there’s no distractions, but hopefully he’s focused, hopefully he’s recommitting himself and at some point, to really get over the hump here, these guys have to be able to go out and be accountable to themselves, be accountable to their teammates and do things the right way and hopefully that’s what Zeke’s doing right now.”