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Elliott Won Rushing Title But Feels He “Left A Lot Of Yards On The Field”
FRISCO, Texas – Last year Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards. He was, by just about any standard, one of the most exciting players in football.
But according to him, it wasn’t enough. And if he’s successful with what he’s looking to improve on, then he’s about to be even more exciting.
“I think I left a lot of yards on the field [last season],” Elliott said Wednesday.
Elliott said he’s already comfortable in the offensive system coming into the upcoming season, so his focus is on improving the part of his runs after he’s already run through the holes his offensive line creates.
“Where I think I can make the biggest improvement is becoming an elite runner in the second level,” Elliott said. “That’s what’s going to propel you from 1,600 to 1,800 to 1,900 yards. And making sure I make all those plays count, not leaving any yards on the field.”
Elliott rushed for 1,631 yards last season, so those sound less like random numbers he threw out and more like potential goals.
You won’t find anyone accusing Elliott of being easy to take down, but his expectations are high. If he is in the position where he is staring a safety in the eye, he realistically believes that should result in a touchdown.
“When you get a one-on-one matchup, make that guy miss,” Elliott said. “Take it to the house.”
So how does an already-elite running back – a Pro Bowler and All-Pro in his first season – improve in the second levels of plays? Elliott says if you want to run beyond the first phase of a play in a game, it’s as simple as running beyond the first phase of a play in practice.
“You got to keep working, keep grinding,” he said. “I got to keep finishing my runs in practice and making it like clockwork. Making it become like a natural habit to make long runs and make guys miss in the secondary. It’s just repetition.”
On top of that, Elliott says now that he understands his specific role in any one play, he’s looking to expand his knowledge to the entirety of plays. His growing bond with Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant are crucial to that understanding. They understand that together they are three of the most dangerous weapons on an NFL field at one time. Knowing what each of them is dealing with is the first step to taking advantage of the threat that they pose for defenders.
“We’re just getting together after every OTA and watching film, helping each other out and explaining to each other what our jobs are so we can know what everyone around us is doing so we can do our job better,” Elliott explained.
The common perception is that Elliott skipped the typical rookie learning curve and jumped right to a point of rapid development. But the way Elliott is looking at his career, he’s just like any second-year player: he’s only going to get better.
“I think there is big room for improvement,” he said. Read