FRISCO, Texas – Ezekiel Elliott is set to begin his six-game NFL suspension Sunday at Atlanta, and Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones certainly had hoped for a different ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
"I'm disappointed when he's not going to play," Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan, a day after the court denied Elliott an injunction that would have kept him eligible to play. "But it's what it is. ... I really fervently disagree that we shouldn't have him on the playing field."
The Cowboys have supported Elliott's decision to fight his suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy, but they've also prepared for the possibility he would miss games.
Without him Sunday, the team will turn to Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith. Head coach Jason Garrett said all three should play against the Falcons but didn't speculate on how the work would be distributed.
Elliott, the league's second-leading rusher with 783 yards and 7 touchdowns, has played nearly 85 percent of the offense's plays through the first eight games.
Morris has totaled the most carries of the three backups (14 for 116 yards).
"I've always been one of those guys that the more I do, the better I get," he said. "But I feel like now I'm in a different position that I now I can get going sooner. It'll be interesting to see how everything plays out."
Like Morris, McFadden said his approach doesn't change with more opportunity. Although he has been inactive for each game, he has practiced all season and isn't worried about rust.
"It's something that I've been ready for," McFadden said. "Just been sitting back waiting and that opportunity's come for me. I'm just going to go out there and continue what I do and run the ball the way that I know I can."
Smith, a third-year pro, has 10 carries for 69 yards and 2 catches for 23 yards this season. He's also a core special teams contributor.