FRISCO, Texas – Ezekiel Elliott has always been an exception to the rule.
So it should come as no surprise that the Cowboys' starting running back is one of the few players who can actually say they've had more work this offseason than the year before.
The lack of offseason workouts, preseason games and a limited training camp has affected many of his teammates. But for Zeke, the work he got was much more than a year ago, when he missed the entire training camp in Oxnard, Calif. because of a contract holdout.
When he finally signed his new deal, Zeke showed up the week before the game and hit the field after just three practices.
While he admits he was "fresher" last year because he didn't practice much, Zeke says he's in better football condition and seems more ready to play this Sunday night against the Rams.
"I was pretty (fresh)," Zeke said in reference to last year. "I definitely feel in tune. I have been playing football the last three weeks. (Last year) Coming off the hold out, I jumped right into practice, the first day in pads and then literally three or four days later was playing on Sunday.
So it just having three weeks. They went by fast. But just having that and actually pads and seeing the run fits."
When asked if he's ready to get tackled for the first time in over a year, Zeke said he's looking to initiate as much contact as he'll receive.
"I don't know. You know me. I like to bring it to the other guy," he said. "I'm not too worried about it."
Elliott is coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,357 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning his third Pro Bowl appearance in four years.
A number that might go up this year is his receiving yards. After recording 420 yards in 2019, Zeke could be a bigger part of the passing game, especially working alongside versatile back Tony Pollard, who could be on the field together with Elliott more this year.
"You saw a little bit of it last year," Elliott said. "I would say a bigger package, a bigger menu. I would say more plays, like what you saw me and Tony in there together last year."
Overall, Zeke said his pass-catching is something he's worked on the most this offseason and a big goal heading into the season.
So what did he work on specifically?
"Running routes from the backfield, running routes from the slot, running from outside," he said to reporters on a conference call. "That is about how much I can give you."
Like his head coach Mike McCarthy, Zeke doesn't seem to interested in giving away any tips for Sunday.
What Zeke did share was part of McCarthy's message to the team this week about the peaks and valleys that are inevitable during a season.
"He was showing the proof to the plan," Zeke said of McCarthy. "The first game you know its not going to be your best game. You know its going to be a little sloppy, especially this year with no preseason and kind of a late start to training camp. It's going to be messy the first couple of weeks. It's not going to be perfect. You got to fight for a win.
"His whole thing is no matter where you start you always want to end up here. You want to be trending upward by the end of the season playing your best football."