FRISCO, Texas – The call came from Ezekiel Elliott's agent Friday morning: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted a brief administrative stay of Elliott's six-game NFL suspension, making him eligible to play Sunday against the Kansas City Chief.
The Cowboys' running back put on a sweatshirt, grabbed his backpack and headed to work.
"It seemed like a little burst of adrenaline in this team when I came in the locker room and everyone saw me and realized I was going this week," Elliott said after Friday's practice, his only on-field work this week. "We're all just excited to go out there and get better as a team this week and try to get another win."
Elliott spoke to the media for a few minutes after practice, then headed straight to the film room to catch up on preparing for the Chiefs. He had been banned from The Star in Frisco this week after the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied him a preliminary injunction, reinstating his suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
The Second Circuit's ruling keeps Elliott on the field for at least Sunday's game, pending a full hearing of his appeal.
Prior to Friday's ruling, the Cowboys were prepared to use some combination of Elliott's backups – Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden – against the Chiefs. Elliott, who has played in all seven games this season, ranks third in the league with 690 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns.
"He's obviously a really good football player," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "He's been a big part of what we've done since we've got him last year. Feel very confident in the other running backs that we have on our team. Again, two good practices (Wednesday and Thursday with) guys that have been experienced and productive players in this league, so we feel good about what their roles are, but certainly he helps us.
"He's been very productive for us from the first game he's played. He's been playing awfully well here of late and excited to have him back."
Elliott said he worked out on his own this week while suspended, making sure he kept his conditioning up.
Although he must catch up on the offensive game plan over the next 48 hours, he said the two practices he missed might have helped his body recover from a heavy workload last Sunday again the Redskins: a season-high 33 carries for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 33-19 Cowboys victory.
"I feel fresh," he said.
Immediately after that game, Elliott traveled to New York for the appeal hearing that denied an injunction. Four days later, he learned he was back on field.
Needless to say, it's been a long week and a long legal process that's still ongoing. But Elliott said he has never considered accepting the suspension, adamantly denying allegations of domestic violence by a former girlfriend. The league suspended Elliott for violating the league's personal conduct policy even though the Columbus (Ohio) City Attorney's Office announced in September 2016 that Elliott would not face charges.
"This is bigger than a suspension," Elliott said Friday. "This is bigger than football. It's them trying to make me something I'm not. I'm not an abuser. This is my name and this is my reputation. This is something I have to live with beyond football. Every day is worth fighting."