FRISCO, Texas – Outside observers might view the Cowboys' current stretch – and the Minnesota Vikings' stretch, too – as three games in 12 days.
Both teams are through the most difficult part of that Thanksgiving run: the three days in between games last week. The Cowboys got back to practice Sunday for Thursday's game at Minnesota, settling into their normal Wednesday schedule for a Sunday game.
For Ezekiel Elliott, that means more time than last week to focus on the upcoming opponent: in this case, another difficult test for the NFL's top-ranked running game.
The Vikings are among the league's best defenses, ranked third overall, and are tough against the run, particularly at home. They've allowed only two 100-yard rushers this season and have been even better at home, giving up an average of 95.2 yards in five games; in six road trips they've yielded an average of 108.3 yards.
The Arizona Cardinals are the only team to reach 100 total rushing yards at new U.S. Bank Stadium.
"They're a very good team and they're good at what they do," Elliott said. "They don't do a lot of different things. They kind of stick to what they do and they don't really change because they're good at it. They're very sound. They don't really lose gaps. They don't make mistakes. It's just going to come down to execution."
Elliott leads the NFL in rushing with 1,199 yards, and in this most recent two-game stretch against the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins, he had 45 carries for 194 yards and two touchdowns running behind the Cowboys' offensive line.
"A lot has changed since Week 1," he said. "I've become a lot more patient of a runner. I became a lot more comfortable with the system. I think we're gelling very good right now. We're a real close group. We work together. We count on each other with our physical play and it works out really good."
Thursday brings yet another challenge.