OXNARD, Calif. – Different situations, but the mindset is the same.
Regardless of the circumstances, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are both looking to have different outcomes for the 2021 season than what occurred a year ago.
Obviously for Dak, his season ended being carted off with a gruesome ankle injury – his first significant setback of his career.
And for Zeke, while health wasn't a major issue, his production certainly lacked, at least to his standards. Maybe it was the loss of Prescott and the offensive tackles that contributed to Zeke's falloff, but the Cowboys' starting running back faced his share of adversity as well.
Now, as the Cowboys get ready for the start of a new training camp, both players seemingly have something to prove.
During Wednesday's opening press conference that featured Mike McCarthy, Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones, both players were mentioned often. The way they have trained this offseason, either in rehab or their conditioning, has led to many positive comments regarding the team's two biggest superstars.
McCarthy said Dak would not be limited in practice during camp, something that occurred in the OTAs and minicamps when he was held out of team drills.
"Unless something comes out of the medical meetings, I see him to be a full participation," McCarthy said. "We'll see how it goes and watch it. We kept him out of the team, drills (this summer), but he'll participate in the team (11-on-11) drills."
McCarthy went on to praise Dak for his consistency to work out every day since the injury. But also said his new contract should warrant an even higher level of leadership.
"When a player receives a big contract, it's my opinion the responsibility they have Monday to Saturday greatly increases. Nobody exemplifies that more than Dak."
Stephen Jones added that Dak is the type of leader, similar to a Michael Irvin, who has the ability to lead the team both emotionally and on the field.
Jerry Jones also said Dak's return is the main reason he believes "the arrow is pointing up" for the Cowboys this year.
As for Zeke, who has stayed rather quiet this offseason, just his appearance alone is different. He looks much leaner and even stronger and is clearly motivated to have a better season in 2021. Last year, Elliott saw career-low numbers in rushing yards (979), rushing touchdowns (six) and his average yards per game (65.3) was by far the lowest of his career.
But McCarthy seems to think things will be different for Zeke this year. If anything, the approach has been much better.
"He looks great. He's been here the whole time," McCarthy said. "He sits in the front row in every team meeting."
McCarthy added that Zeke continues to attend not only the running back meetings, but the quarterback and offensive line sessions as well, trying to get on the same page with all of the positions surrounding him.
Of course, for both players, time will tell just how different this year will be.
But as camp begins, the outlook seems much more positive for the Cowboys' duo.