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Feeling Sore, But Zeke's Hard Work Paying Off


FRISCO, Texas – Pardon the pun, but it feels like we're starting to pile on this pylon.

Honestly, maybe don't pardon the pun. It was a bad one. But the point remains, it's been quite some time since we've seen this much focus on the foam sideline markers – which Ezekiel Elliott found out Sunday, perhaps don't feel as soft as they might look.

"I didn't know the pylon was going to feel like that," Elliott joked Wednesday.

In all seriousness, it couldn't have felt good to drop one's full weight on to such an awkward object. Elliott said the muscles around his bruised ribs are starting to relax a little bit. But it's one more ailment to worry about after being limited with a knee injury last week.

Fortunately, athletes have no shortage of ways to recuperate in this day and age. Elliott mentioned he's been using ice and e-stim, or electric stimulation, to loosen those muscles up, but he added that h

"What's been working the best is heat, yes," he said. "So from here until next week I'll be in the hot tub. I might be a prune by the time we get to New England."

It feels like a fitting storyline to what we've seen so far this season. As one might expect, Elliott is beginning to pick up the bumps and bruises that go along with playing one of the most physical positions in an insanely physical sport. The fact that it doesn't seem to be slowing him down is a testament to his play style.

"He's a tough player," said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy on Monday. "I knew that when I was on the opposite side of the field just his running style. Yeah, he's going to bring it every day, so yeah I have no concerns about him."

Maybe part of that is due to preparation, as well. Elliott's offseason conditioning was the subject of much speculation, as his social media channels painted the portrait of a guy who was bringing an added determination to this season.

That was a topic of a lot of conversation at training camp, and there's little doubt that it's carrying over. From a purely anecdotal standpoint, Elliott looks more explosive. But statistically, his ability to turn the corner, his 5.3 yards per carry average and his uptick in explosive runs – highlighted by a 47-yarder – back that up.

As Elliott himself has noted, that's the result of a concerted effort after a disappointing 2020.

"I'd say this year a lot of it was about my body," he said. "A lot of it was just making sure I was ready to come in and make up for my s* show last year."

It's still early, but Elliott has to be pleased with how that work is paying off to this point. Given the beating he takes on a weekly basis, the ribs won't be the last thing to feel sore during a game week.

But as he said, it comes down to trusting the work that's been put in. Clearly, that seems to be the case.

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