ARLINGTON, Texas – Will Ezekiel Elliott rejoin the Cowboys in time for the Sept. 8 season opener against the New York Giants?
There's still a 10-day window for a Week 1 reunion to become reality. For now, though, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones is preparing for a scenario in which the All-Pro running back misses not just one game, but perhaps more, over a contract holdout.
"I'm operating as though right now he's going to miss regular-season games," Jones said after Thursday's preseason finale at AT&T Stadium. "My entire expectation for what we're putting together as a team right now would anticipate with him holding out, and not having any of training camp, that he's going to miss games. I just accept that."
Does that possibility alter Jones' expectations for the 2019 season? "No," Jones said. "He can't and won't miss them all."
Elliott, of course, would be forfeiting weekly game checks for any game he might miss. He's set to make $3.853 million in base salary this season and is currently under contract through 2020.
Fourth-round draft pick Tony Pollard got the bulk of the first-team reps in training camp and looks like the projected starter if Elliott's absence drags into the season.
The Cowboys have remained optimistic they can reach a new deal with Elliott, the NFL's leading rusher in two of the last three seasons, even though there hasn't appeared to be much movement in negotiations.
Despite the impasse, Jones made clear again Thursday that the team values Elliott and his role on the team.
"We need Zeke. We're a better team with Zeke," Jones said. "But we need to be able to win when we need to without players because of injuries, suspension, or in this case, holdout. But as I've said, this is a marathon."