Quarterback Dak Prescott had a lengthy text change with Ezekiel Elliott after learning the star running back would probably have to serve his six-game suspension.
“I was just telling him we got his back, supporting him, and he had a couple of words for me," Prescott said Wednesday after practice. "I was just letting him know we support him.
“He obviously feels bad with the ruling coming down, but I was just letting him know I've got his back, this team's got his back. He was just telling me 'just go play ball.'"
When asked about Elliott’s emotions, Prescott said, “I'm not going to read his attitude or what I thought. It is what it is. It happened. I know he's looking forward, he's moving forward. He's put that all behind him. He's going to do the best he can to have his body and his mind ready to go when he returns."
Elliott, the league’s leading rusher in 2017, is eligible to return to the lineup on Dec. 17 against the Oakland Raiders.
Elliott had gained more than 100 yards in each of the last three games, and gained 150 yards on 33 carries in a 33-19 win over Washington on Sunday.
Without him, the Cowboys will rely on Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden to run the ball.
"I mean, my expectations for this team are high regardless of who is at running back, who is at receiver, who is at offensive line," Prescott said. "My expectations that I know these guys in this locker room, the guys I go to work with each and every day I know their potential, I know what they and we can do together. My expectations don't change."
Without Elliott, others must produce the big plays that drive the offense. Of the 24 plays the Cowboys have of more than 20 yards this season, Elliott has produced seven - four rushing and three receiving.
Brice Butler and Dez Bryant have four each, and Terrance Williams has three. Six other players have one.
"The passing game's got to be great regardless, whether Zeke's here or not," Prescott said. "That's just part of it. We've got to be balanced. We've got to make the run game hit and then hopefully that will open up the pass game. We've got to make the most of it when those plays are called.
"For me it's about just staying focused to my job. Coach [Scott] Linehan touched on it. My job is the same if he's here or if Zeke's not here. So it's about going out there and give this team a chance to win whether we're handing it off or throwing it."
It’s just easier with Elliott in the lineup.