FRISCO, Texas – Mike McCarthy confirmed the assessment of his star running back Wednesday when he said Ezekiel Elliott shouldn't require surgery on his injured knee.
"The PCL injury was something that we feel will heal with rest," McCarthy said Wednesday. "He's not up for surgery right now, there's no discussion about having a procedure."
That's some glimmer of optimism during an otherwise gloomy week. It's been common knowledge for months that Elliott was playing through a knee injury, but the extent of it was a bit of a mystery. Sunday night, in the wake of the Cowboys' exit from the playoffs, Elliott allowed that he had partially torn the Posterior Cruciate Ligament in his right knee.
"It was an injury that wasn't going to get worse, but it was going to take time," he said.
The injury might not have been the only culprit for the implosion of the Cowboys' running game, but it certainly couldn't have helped. Elliott suffered the setback in the Oct. 3 win against Carolina, in which he rushed for 143 yards and the Cowboys hit 245 rushing yards as a team.
"He had a tremendous start to the season all the way up to Carolina," McCarthy said. "Carolina is when he was injured. It was clearly the best he's looked in my time here, physically."
Elliott rushed for 110 yards the next week against the New York Giants and did not top 100 yards in a game for the rest of the year. The Cowboys averaged 164 rushing yards per game during the first six weeks of the season, and that average dipped to 99 yards per game in the 11 weeks after their bye.
Still, McCarthy credited Elliott for gutting through the issue. The sixth-year veteran did not miss a game this season, and his 87 rushing yards in the regular season finale pushed him over the 1,000-yard milestone on the season.
"It is something he dealt with and practiced with throughout the year," McCarthy said. "It says something about Zeke, not only his commitment but his toughness."