Lost fumble overshadows otherwise solid Patriots debut for Ezekiel Elliott

Lost fumble overshadows otherwise solid Patriots debut for Ezekiel Elliott
Video ezekiel elliott fumbles

For Ezekiel Elliott, the New England Patriots’ season opener was a meeting with a familiar foe: the game was the 13th of his career against the Philadelphia Eagles. But despite his history with the Eagles, this contest was still a special one.

It was, after all, Elliott’s debut in a Patriots uniform. The former Pro Bowler, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Dallas Cowboys, joined New England in August.

After not seeing any preseason action, the 28-year-old finally took the field for his new club on Sunday. Elliott ended up playing 28 offensive snaps, registering seven carries for 29 yards and five catches for 14 more.

While he did not jump off the stat sheet — a byproduct of a pass-heavy game script and makeshift offensive line — the veteran running back had a solid debut. He himself described it as such when talking to reporters after the game.

“It felt good,” Elliott said. “Felt solid about the game.”

While he did have some solid moments, not all went well for Elliott. In fact, he gave the ball away in the first quarter: catching a short pass from quarterback Mac Jones, he fumbled the football and had to watch the Eagles’ Zach Cunningham jump on it for the recovery. Four plays later, Philadelphia was in the end zone to go up 16-0.

The fumble was Elliott’s first since November 2021; he had not put the ball on the ground even once in his previous 405 touches. To return to those levels of ball security, Elliott pointed to the fundamentals.

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“First thing that I think of is just protecting the football,” he said. “That’s not acceptable, putting the ball on the ground. So, I just have to get back into the lab, lock in on the fundamentals, lock in on keeping that ball nice and tight, and get ready for next week.”

Despite the negative play, the Patriots kept giving Elliott opportunities against the Eagles. 10 of his 12 touches came after the giveaway, an apparent vote of confidence from the coaching staff.

And at least according to fellow running back Rhamondre Stevenson, Elliott has earned the right to more opportunities even in light of his early fumble.

“He’s been taking in a lot of information over these last couple weeks to a month. Proud of him,” New England’s nominal RB1 said after the 25-20 loss to the Eagles. “He played very hard, ran hard and he’s looking to build off that.”