FRISCO, Texas – The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has denied an emergency injunction for Ezekiel Elliott, paving the way for the running back's six-game NFL suspension to take effect.
The ruling, according to NFL.com and reports, came down less than an hour after NFL and NFL Players Association representatives gave oral arguments at the appeal hearing in New York. The Cowboys excused Elliott from Thursday's practice to attend the hearing.
Last Friday, the Second Circuit granted Elliott a brief administrative stay of the suspension, allowing him to practice and play until the court ruled on the appeal. Elliott rushed for 93 yards in the Cowboys' win over the Chiefs last Sunday.
But with no injunction in place, Elliott is now set to serve his suspension immediately, beginning this Sunday at Atlanta, according to reports.
Pending further appeals, a full six-game suspension would mean the All-Pro running back isn't eligible to return to the field until Dec. 24 against Seattle. According to reports, the Second Circuit did grant an expedited appeal of the overall case that is set to be heard Dec. 1 -- four games into the six-game suspension.
Elliott's suspension, first handed down in August, concluded the league's year-long investigation into July 2016 domestic violence allegations against him by a former girlfriend. In September 2016, the Columbus (Ohio) City Attorney's Office announced that Elliott would not face charges. A player can still face punishment from the league under its personal conduct policy even if he is cleared of legal charges, however.
Elliott has staunchly denied those allegations, and the NFLPA has continued to explore every legal avenue to defend Elliott and maintain his football eligibility.
Elliott played in all of the Cowboys' first eight games and currently ranks second in the league with 783 rushing yards. His 7 rushing touchdowns are tied for the league lead.
Without him, the Cowboys must turn to backups Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith. All three got increased practice work Thursday and for two days last week when Elliott briefly began serving his suspension until the Second Circuit granted the temporary stay.
Cowboys coaches and players have expressed confidence in a potential running back committee. Morris and McFadden are former 1,000-yard rushers, and third-year veteran Smith had a strong preseason with extended carries.
In the immediate short term, Elliott's expected absence against the Falcons is complicated by injuries to starting receiver Dez Bryant (knee, ankle) and left tackle Tyron Smith (groin). Neither has practiced this week, though Bryant told reporters Thursday that he planned to practice Friday.