FRISCO, Texas – Even when he isn't playing, Ezekiel Elliott continues to impress.
With the Cowboys concluding their Week 7 bye week, go scan the NFL's rushing stats to this point in the season. Despite taking the weekend off, the rookie running back still sits atop the league with 703 rushing yards.
His nearest competitors, David Johnson and DeMarco Murray, are behind him with 681 yards and 633 yards, respectively. What's more? Murray has carried the ball twice more than Elliott to this point, while Johnson is nine carries past the rookie.
It's an impressive start, to say the least. At his current pace this season, Elliott is headed toward a 1,874-yard campaign – which would be a new rookie rushing record, surpassing Eric Dickerson's mark of 1,808.
If Elliott continues his absurd average of 142.3 yards per game from this past month, then we're talking an entirely different level. Theoretically, if he could maintain that over the course of the next 10 games, he could set a new NFL rushing record.
Regardless of the record in question, it doesn't matter – not to Elliott, at least. Asked about it last week, before he left on his bye week, he said as much.
"We're going to start these Eric Dickerson questions again," he asked a crowd of reporters.
"You guys want to write stories about the rookie rushing record and it's about this team, honestly, it's not about a record, that's not what we're focused on," he continued. "We're a team and honestly I don't want any attention being put towards that, it should be about this team and it should be about these guys, it should be about our relationship, it shouldn't be about records."
That's a fair point, if you've watched the way this team has played during its five-game winning streak. Throughout this season, the Cowboys have been marked by Elliott's relentless running style, not to mention Dak Prescott's cool demeanor beside him in the backfield.
Just as noticeable as that, though, has been the team's bond throughout the season, as a month-long winning streak has led to a loud and lively locker room – which is something Elliott said he didn't expect.
"Honestly, a lot of people told me that the NFL is different – that guys will be more about themselves and it's not going to be as much about the team," he said. "I haven't felt that at all in this locker room. I feel like we're a very close group of guys. It feels just like in college. We have a lot of fun together, and I don't think anything can get in between us."
That's not too surprising, considering the circumstances. Prescott and Elliott hold down the backfield at the ages of 23 and 21, respectively. The team's entire receiving corps is 27 or younger, while – with the exception of Doug Free and Jason Witten – all the guys working on the line are also in their mid-20s.
The bond is pretty apparent for anyone to see, and it's something Elliott said he cares about far more than records.
"It's about these guys," he said. "So I mean, I would never want to do anything to let them down, so that's what it's become about."
Now, that doesn't mean Elliott can't improve from the on-field standpoint. Fresh from a week off, the Cowboys have 10 games remaining. And as good as their ground game has been so far, the rookie said – somehow – that's there's plenty of room for improvement.
"I think it can get better," he said. "I've yet to show the dominance at the second level and beat the safeties and score long touchdowns. Once that starts happening, you know, it's going to be kind of scary."