Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is aiming for a bounce-back year

2022 is a year for Elliott and his future as a Cowboy.

OXNARD, Calif. – It’s a huge year for Ezekiel Elliott.

“Yeah,” Elliott said, “I think it’s a great season.”

A great season, because that could be the last as a cowboy. Dallas has an opt-out in his contract after 2022, making it possible for them to cut him if they want to. The Cowboys could get out from under the final four years of his contract, with just $11.9 million in dead money.

“I don’t think there’s a reason to look that far down the road,” he said, when asked about it Wednesday. “I think if I run my business every day, then I’ll be in a pretty good situation.”

First, however, he had to put last season behind him. 2021 was, by Elliott’s standards, a mediocre year. There were reasons for that, of course. He was hampered much of the year by a knee injury. And that injury stayed with him.

“I was kind of worried at the beginning of the offseason, like, ‘holy shit, this thing still feels a little iffy.’ By the time OTAs came around, it was back to 100,” Elliott said.

“He’s overcome a lot to play,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “And I think that speaks volumes about him. And you need those types of individuals to win championships.”

Elliott’s offseason work with running backs coach Josh Hicks is what helped him feel like himself again.

“You know, it’s hard, being hurt and feeling like you missed a step,” Elliott said. “And so it definitely helped me get moving, and get back to the speed I was used to, and just bring that confidence in myself, in my body, in my mind, that I can make those cuts.”

The Cowboys haven’t lost faith in him.

“Zeke Elliott is one of the cornerstones of this team,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “He’s a key player.”

And as Elliott works to get back to his former self, he’s also expanding his mental capacity, including spending time in quarterback meetings to better understand the offense.

“He’s a very smart football player,” McCarthy said, “and to be honest with you, he likes to be committed at the quarterback level.”

“Knowledge alone is power,” Elliot said. “So if I can get in there and get a nugget here, a nugget there, it will help me down the road.”

And Elliott hopes it helps him enough that he can still be a cowboy down the road.

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is aiming for a bounce-back year

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