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Mailbag: The Next Milestone For Zeke Elliott?

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With the teams in the league passing the ball more and running less, how important do you feel running backs are in the league still? When you look at some of the better offenses, they have good-to-great backs (Saints, Rams, last year’s Chiefs). I get not wanting to pay older RBs a ton of money because they wear down, but Zeke is still only 23 years old and taking a RB in any round of the draft doesn't always lead to success. I think in this offense with this QB it’s crucial to have a workhorse back. Thoughts? - TYLER BAEM / SAN ANTONIO, TX

Rob: Just remember the Cowboys originally drafted Elliott to play with Tony Romo in 2016. Any quarterback would benefit from a great running back. You get no argument from me about Elliott’s value to the team. Cowboys brass has readily admitted he’s the engine for this offense. The question right now is the timing of a new contract. This is a great, and probably challenging, position for Jerry, Stephen and the front office to be in: figuring out how to navigate multiple Pro Bowlers seeking extensions.

Bryan: If you’re the Patriots, Saints and Chiefs you don’t need a great running back because their quarterback can carry them. The Cowboys at this point don’t have a quarterback that can carry them. Elliott is a rare player and he takes the pressure off Dak Prescott to have to perform. Maybe one day Prescott can be that guy but we’re not there yet.

Can Zeke Elliott become the third member of the 1,000/1,000-yard group in the NFL? We know Zeke can run the ball and amass huge yards, and we have seen him increase his passing game involvement every year also and put up decent numbers. So I am thinking if new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore does begin to open up the passing game a little more, and if Zeke is involved more, then he should be able to be the newest member of the 1,000/1,000 group. - BRYAN SCOTT / RED LION, PA

Rob: ESPN.com did a story on the 1,000/1,000-club last month, and they focused on Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey and New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara as the most likely players to join Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk. Both came closer to 1,000 receiving yards last year than Elliott’s 567. But it’s worth noting that Elliott’s receptions skyrocketed from 32 his rookie year to 77 last year. Faulk was one of his idols growing up. It’s a really tall order, but if nothing else, he should be in more conversations about the most complete backs in the league.

Bryan: I remember back in the day Roger Craig doing that for the 49ers and thinking to myself how special that was even though the 49ers had Jerry Rice and John Taylor. I have a feeling that Moore will try to get Elliott more involved, but he’s such a great pass protector that he’ll likely stay in and help that way, thus putting the ball in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb’s hands.

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