Skip to main content

How Zeke Elliott & The O-Line Plan To Regroup


FRISCO, Texas – There haven't been many stat lines like this one in the Zeke era:

Eighteen carries for 35 yards and the Cowboys' lone touchdown last Sunday at the Superdome.

In fact, Elliott has averaged fewer than 2 yards per carry (1.9 against the Saints) only one other time in 47 career NFL starts: 9 carries for 8 yards (.09) in a blowout loss at Denver in Week 2 of the 2017 season.

The reigning NFL rushing champ and the Cowboys' offensive line are committed to controlling the line of scrimmage better than last Sunday's 12-10 loss to New Orleans.

"You definitely take it personally, because we didn't expect to go out there and only put up 10 points," Elliott said Wednesday. "You've got to take it personally, but you've also got to take what you've learned from the game and move on.

"We're on to a new opponent, a new team this week, and it's a different obstacle, so we've just got to figure out the best way to overcome this one."

Sunday's opponent, the Green Bay Packers, rank 26th against the run. They gave up 176 rushing yards in a Week 4 loss to the Eagles. But they've got a talented front seven that includes outside linebackers Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith, who have 8.5 combined sacks through four games.

"They've got some big, thick, physical guys in the middle," guard Zack Martin said. "It's going to take a lot for us to get underneath those guys and get them out of there."

The Cowboys just couldn't find any consistent traction up front against the Saints' defense last Sunday. Center Travis Frederick said the line handled the pre-snap communication fine amid the Superdome noise, but overall execution was lacking.

"There wasn't very many plays where we were all doing our job at the same time," Frederick said.

"I do think they did a good job game planning, trying to give themselves the best looks into our looks. …They were running generalized pressures and movements that would have been good against both (run or pass). So we just needed to tighten that up from an offensive line standpoint and make sure we are on top of those movements. And I think we've addressed that."

The offensive line will likely have a slightly different look Sunday against Green Bay. Cameron Fleming has taken the first-team left tackle reps in practice this week for Tyron Smith, who is sidelined by the ankle sprain he suffered on the final drive against the Saints. Right tackle La'el Collins also didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday, though head coach Jason Garrett said he's improving – an indication he might be able to get back on the field by the end of the week.

Regardless, Elliott has confidence in his guys up front. The week prior, he and rookie Tony Pollard combined for 228 rushing yards and a touchdown in a win over Miami.

The run game remains the engine for the Cowboys' third-ranked offense.

"It's a long football season and there are going to be injuries. The great thing about this offensive line is they're really good from top to bottom," Elliott said. "There's a lot of depth. So, I've got of a lot of faith in all those guys in that room.

"We're going to work as hard as we can to get guys back healthy, but we're going to go out there and play with what we've got."