OXNARD, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys have arrived at training camp, but Ezekiel Elliott is not with them.
Not yet, at least.
After weeks of speculation that the All-Pro running back was mulling a holdout, the Cowboys' chartered flight to California departed Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport without him on Thursday.
Given the context, that is understandably intriguing. But Cowboys players were sure to point out that Elliott doesn't have to report until Friday.
"There's a lot of guys that didn't get a chance to make the flight," said Jaylon Smith. "Official camp day is tomorrow, so tomorrow is when we'll see who's here and who's ready to go."
It's true that a handful of other players didn't fly with the team to Los Angeles, as several members of the team are from the West Coast – or simply opted to meet the team on their own time.
"There are guys who live out here or spend time out here, it's easier for them to make the trip up and do that," said Travis Frederick. "To me, it doesn't make a difference."
Even still, none of the Cowboys' other absentees hold quite so much stature as Elliott. The fourth-year running back is one of the faces of this franchise, and he has led the league in rushing in two of his three NFL seasons. That's obviously part of the reasoning for the rumored holdout.
The Cowboys have several players in need of contract extensions – namely, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. But even with two years remaining on his rookie deal, it's understandable why Elliott might want the Cowboys to re-visit his financial situation.
Frederick got his own contract extension while the Cowboys were in Oxnard, signing a six-year, $56 million extension back in 2016. That experience gives him some useful perspective on the business side of the league, which he said he considers heavily.
"To me, this game is a business. Everybody has to treat it as such," he said. "I hold no hard feelings to anybody that is trying to do that and get the business done and protect their family.
"So for me, we are out here to work. We are going to work with the guys that we have. That is not a dig at anybody. That is how it works. Guys get hurt and you don't have them for practice. Guys get sick and you don't have them for practice. And some guys aren't here because they're working through some of the business portions. You just deal with what you have."
As of right now, it's too soon to say whether or not the Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott. But they'll get their answer soon enough.