While the NFL world stirred about when Ezekiel Elliott's lengthy preseason holdout would end, the All-Pro running back was always focused on a Week 1 return and built his training program around that eventuality. The odds of Elliott missing any regular season games were always scant, sources maintained throughout the process, and he focused his work on being ready for a full workload against the Giants this weekend.
Elliott signed a new contract last week that essentially guarantees him $50 million over the next four years and joined the Cowboys for practice midweek. Team sources said the running back was in great shape and made an immediate positive impression, and there is every expectation he sees a significant workload Sunday. Elliott informed the team he is ready for his usual role, and while game flow and score could result in a lesser outcome, he should feature plenty early in the game.
Elliott's workouts in Mexico were being overseen by Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, who told me there are no limitations or restrictions on the running back.
"He is in very good shape," Faulk explained. "He can carry a normal Week 1 workload. We got him in the best football shape possible without contact, which is where the league is now with the starters not playing in the preseason."
While Elliott's contractual situation is resolved, the Cowboys would like to retain two other key offensive cogs: quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper. Negotiations with Prescott have been serious and ongoing, though if he does want to become among the highest-paid QBs in the league he may have to thrive this season to get there. The Cowboys had little dialogue with Cooper this offseason, and the odds of getting something done with him quickly are bleak; receiver salaries have soared, and with so many wideouts getting extensions, Cooper could be incredibly well positioned as a free agent in 2020.