(Editor's Note: Over the next month, the staff of DallasCowboys.com is looking to answer the 20 biggest questions facing the team heading into the 2022 season. Today, the staff writers discuss expectations for Ezekiel Elliott after battling through a knee injury last season.)
6) What Are The Realistic Expectations For Zeke?
Rob Phillips: As long as he stays relatively healthy (unlike 2021) and the rest of the offense isn't torn apart by injuries (unlike 2020), I see no reason why Elliott can't comfortably exceed 1,000 rushing yards for the first time since 2019. (He got to 1,002 in Week 18 last season.) Elliott was arguably in the best shape of his career at this time last year, and his first month of the season was terrific before the knee injury clearly impacted him over the final 10 or so games. With a healthy Elliott and Tony Pollard and perhaps an improved offensive line with first-round draft pick Tyler Smith, the running game isn't far from being a real strength for the offense once again.
Kyle Youmans: Zeke remaining fully healthy would fix a lot of problems for this offense to start. There shouldn't be a scenario where if he gets injured that he'd take carries away from other capable tailbacks. If that's avoided, I could see lowering his workload to around 225 or 230 carries and seeing him produce significant numbers as a real possibility. He's entering year seven of what has been a great career, where expecting 1,400 or 1,600 yards is unlikely. I'd think the ceiling of his expectations would be around 1,100 yards as a short yardage and redzone threat is attainable while also being a great pass blocker.
Mickey Spagnola: That he rushes for 1,000 yards for a fifth time in his seven-year career and challenges for the NFL rushing title. That he leads the team in rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns, as he did this past season with 10 rushing and 12 combined. Why not? Zeke is healthy, no longer dealing with that sprained posterior cruciate knee ligament suffered in the fourth games of last season. He looks to be in great shape. That quickness still is there. And would sure help his rushing totals if the Cowboys do a better job of not having to play so much catch-up and take leads into the fourth quarter when they can put the ball more in his hands.