Ezekiel Elliott experienced soreness in his hips after 86 touches in three games over 12 days. The Cowboys aren’t worried about his workload, which has him on pace for 384 touches for the season.
They plan on riding their workhorse the rest of the season.
“His workload has been what we expect it to be,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “He’s one of the kind of rare guys who can do that week in and week out, and we’ve got to continue with that. He’s doing a great job of honing in all three downs. He plays a lot of snaps for us. It’s obviously a testament to him getting himself physically and mentally ready to do that. I think when we hand the ball to him, good things happen. We always seem to stay in front of the chains with him. Some of his best runs are 2- and 3-yard carries. I think he’s just being Zeke.”
Elliott’s 86 touches were the second-most in a three-game span in his career. He gained 531 total yards from scrimmage, the most in a three-game span in his career.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett revealed last week Elliott has lost weight since the season started, helping the running back’s endurance.
“I just see the way he takes care of himself all week long and then it pays off on Sunday just the way he prepares, the way he takes care of his body,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “As y’all have discussed, what he’s done with his weight and just being healthy. He’s making sure that he’s able to go take those 30 carries and be his best on all 30 carries and even when the ball’s not in his hands, what he provides for this offense is just a product of what he does all week long.”
Elliott had 354 total touches as a rookie two years ago when he led the league in rushing with 1,631 yards on 322 carries, but the Cowboys are using him more in the passing game, increasing his touches.
It is not unusual for Linehan and the Cowboys, though. DeMarco Murray had 449 total touches, including 392 rushing attempts in 2014 when he led the league in rushing.
Elliott, like Murray, can handle it because he has prepared to handle it.
“He had a lot of snaps his rookie year and when he played last year,” Linehan said. “But now he’s producing in the passing game more so he’s amped up his contribution touches, and the guy is still his best when we get in that fourth quarter. So to be able to play that many snaps and handle the workload that we ask says a lot about his mental and physical conditioning.”