The Cowboys face the possibility of starting out the 2017 season without last year’s league leading rusher.
Ezekiel Elliott is currently appealing a six-game suspension from the NFL due to his involvement in an alleged domestic violence incident last year in Ohio with an ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile, Elliott’s legal team says the women made threats to ruin his career.
Elliott was also allegedly involved in an altercation at a Dallas bar prior to the start of training camp. The NFL has since closed that investigation and stated it would only resume if new information arises from the incident.
Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith was asked if he’s talked to Elliott about all of the offseason issues involving the current Cowboys running back.
"I'm not going to discuss the personal matters between Zeke and myself," Smith said. "He needs to have a place of trust and if that's within me, I'm going to try and keep it that way. I think very highly of the young man."
There is a chance that Elliott could possibly see the suspension fall from six games to four. No matter how many games the suspension is, the Cowboys still face the tall task of replacing him to start the season. Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris got a fair share of carries in Saturday’s preseason win over the Colts in front of the home crowd in Arlington. Rod Smith has also looked good during training camp and preseason action.
Troy Aikman, another Hall of Famer, feels the Elliott situation is a concern but is also showing faith that the Cowboys can overcome the obstacle of being without their star running back.
“With that offensive line and the running backs they have, I'd expect them to still have success running the football,” Aikman said. “There's been some other distractions with the suspensions and things of that nature but I do think this will still be a solid team and come out of the gates and play well. I expect them to have another great year."
Elliott has been involved with various off-the-field incidents since the Cowboys selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Many are hoping this suspension could be a wake-up call.
“I think Ezekiel knows what he needs to do,” Aikman said. “I think you’ve got to be careful and can’t put yourself in certain situations where you become vulnerable. You get put in a position where something bad can potentially occur but all these guys know that. These guys are grown men. They’ve lived in an era of social media. You know, or at least got to anticipate, every action is going to be videoed. If he didn’t know that already I’m sure someone’s got his attention.”