OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys obviously had their share of challenges last year. That is something that can't be debated.
While the COVID-19 protocols is something all teams dealt with, most of the league didn't lose its starting quarterback and three top offensive linemen as well.
But to Ezekiel Elliott, those are legitimate excuses.
However, fumbling the ball is not. And that's something the sixth-year running back vows to change as he enters the 2021 season.
"Number one fumbling the ball," Elliott said when asked what his No. 1 focus is this season. "I've never been a fumbler. When you carry the ball, you kind of carry the whole hope of the whole team, organization and fan base. If you cough it up and give it to the other team, you're letting everyone down so I mean that's the No. 1 thing that's my focus this year is protecting the ball."
Zeke had six fumbles in 2020, quite a jump from his 3.5 average fumbles per season in the first four years of his career. So why the sudden changes?
"I think a lot of it is, which is hard, I've had to battle a wrist injury and I've always carried the ball in my left hand so I'm running to the right or I'm running to the left and I've got my right hand I'm leaving myself exposed," Zeke explained. "That happened a couple of times. A lot of times I got loose with it, trying to make a move and let it get away from my body. But, I mean, repetition and focusing on keeping the ball close to my body and keeping it tight and just practice. That's all it's going to take."
But as Zeke reiterated, it doesn't matter why he's fumbling, only that it stops.
:It's my job to make sure I don't fumble it," he said. "I've just got to focus on that every day and just continue to work hard at it and fix it. It doesn't matter."
Hanging onto the ball hasn't been his only focus this year. Elliott definitely looks leaner and even ripped, as he showed off his six-pack in recent social media posts. He says he's down from about 225 pounds to 218 this year.
"Just having the year I had last year. You don't need more motivation than that," Elliott said. "I just know the type of player I am. I don't think I showed that last year. I got a lot to prove. I just made sure I didn't leave any doubt out there that I didn't do as much as I needed to do."