Jerry Jones says Cowboys should see different Ezekiel Elliott in 2018

Jerry Jones says Cowboys should see different Ezekiel Elliott in 2018

GRAPEVINE, Texas – Owner and general manager Jerry Jones believes that the Dallas Cowboys will see a different Ezekiel Elliott in 2018.

From training camp last summer to the halfway point of the 2017 regular season, Elliott had to deal with the legal battles associated with his six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Once the suspension went into effect, he spent six weeks away from the team and its strength and conditioning and athletic training staffs.

“I think that not having to address that mentally and physically, not having to think about not only the interruption of the potential suspension and the suspension but just the physical interruption, the physical aspect of that,” Jones said from the team’s sponsorship golf tournament at Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine, Texas.

“But from the standpoint of mentally, there is no question – I’m 100 percent sure – to not have that on your mind, to not have the ambiguity of not knowing timelines, those kinds of things, there’s no doubt in my mind it will make a significant difference in how he can focus, how he can focus not only on the next practice but the next game and the entire season.”

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During the season, Elliott and the Cowboys maintained that the running back was not affected by the process. In 10 games, he ran for 983 yards and seven touchdowns on 242 carries.

He had at least 80 yards rushing in nine of the 10 games and had a three-game run in which he had at least 116 yards rushing. In his return from suspension, he ran for 97 and 103 yards against the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.

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Since the Cowboys picked him fourth overall in 2016, Elliott has been the focal point of the offense. That will continue in 2018, with the release of Dez Bryant and the retirement of Jason Witten.

“Yes, I think that I give him a big arrow [up] as to what his performance might be without the overhang of the issue he faced last year,” Jones said of Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards as a rookie.