FRISCO, Texas – For as durable as Ezekiel Elliott has been throughout his six-year career with the Dallas Cowboys, the running back's status for Sunday's game against the Bears sounds like it could be in question.
Elliott has missed just one game in his career due to an injury that came back in 2020, but after taking a tough shot to the knee in Week 7 against the Lions that head coach Mike McCarthy on Wednesday characterized as a knee sprain, Elliott said he isn't sure yet whether he will play Sunday.
"I don't know right now," Elliott said. "We still have a lot of time before Sunday. But right now, we're just focused on getting me as healthy as I can."
After missing Wednesday's practice and working exclusively with rehab group, Elliott said that he feels like he could still play against the Bears and not practice this week.
Of course, Elliott has played through injuries before in his career and did not miss time. Last season he played the majority of the year with a torn PCL in his knee that by his own account limited burst.
Coming off a strong performance last week where he rushed for two touchdowns and hurdled a defender in the second half after the hit to the knee in the previous half, Elliott was asked what gives him the ability to power through injuries and still perform well.
"I think it's a mentality," he said. "I believe my team needs me out there. I think pain is temporary, and I need to be out there with my guys. So that's the priority… It's my job to be out there and be available.
If I can be out there, then why not? I'm not going to take a game off because I don't feel 100%... I think that's soft."
Shortly after Elliott spoke to the media Wednesday, he was promptly followed by Tony Pollard in the designated interview setup just outside of the Cowboys' locker room. Potentially a sign that the Cowboys are preparing for Pollard to take the majority of the snaps Sunday.
"Next guy up," Pollard said. "In this league that's the only thing that is guaranteed… Injuries. So, it's expected, and the next guy has to be ready to step in."
Despite routinely facing questions about his ability to take on a heavier workload in the backfield, Pollard was quick to point out that he is more than capable of doing just that.
"Whatever they ask me to carry, I got it," he said. Against the Lions, Pollard totaled 12 carries for 83 yards while also picking up two receptions. In seven games this season he has 67 attempts for nearly 400 yards and two scores along with 11 pass receptions. In comparison, Elliott has racked up almost 450 yards on 109 carries with four touchdowns.
But Pollard said his ability to control the mental aspect of his game has been one of the things he has learned about himself thus far this season, and the results have shown as much.
"I would say I've pretty much gotten better in all aspects of my game," Pollard said. "Just mentally slowing things down in my head so I can play even faster and just be comfortable out there."
And about his ability to handle a bigger workload? Pollard isn't worried about that.
"I'm always trying to go out there and show what I can do," he said. "Prove myself right, prove others wrong, and play team ball."