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Minicamp | 2024

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Zeke on RB-by-committee: 'Whatever it takes to win'


FRISCO, TexasEzekiel Elliott has been all smiles since returning to the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, having now participated in voluntary OTAs and heading toward the conclusion of mandatory minicamp while donning his newly-acquired No. 15; and his mindset is starting to sound a lot like that of Captain America.

And considering how many running backs are currently on the roster, and his role in trying to help the unit work together like the Avengers to thwart the residual demons of 2023's struggling rushing attack, that tracks.

His relationship with All-Pro quarterback Dak Prescott is as strong as it's ever been.

When asked how Elliott looks, and how it feels to have the two-time NFL rushing champ back in a Cowboys' uniform, Prescott didn't mince words.

"The f-cking best," he said.

The feeling is most definitely mutual.

"He's just grown, all-around, as a leader and a person, and he's a dad now," said Elliott of his quarterback and former 2016 draftmate. "We're getting old. I'm really proud of Dak and how far he's come, and I know he's got plenty more left in him."

Having spent the 2023 season away from Dallas for the first time in his NFL career, a one-year stay with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, Elliott returns to a city that he never truly left, when considering his continued impact in the community and longstanding personal (and some professional) relationships.

Returning to the Cowboys' locker room is, more or less, akin to Elliott literally returning home from a timeshare.

"I wasn't at all worried about how I'd feel when I got back," he said. "I was gone for however long, but I still talked to a lot of guys in the locker room — still hung out with a lot of guys in the locker room — so I just picked up where I left off."

Up next comes his return to Oxnard, where the Cowboys will hold the longest training camp in franchise history — a total of 31 consecutive days — beginning with a July 22 departure. No stranger to what it takes to remain in top form over the six quiet weeks that fall in-between minicamp and the flight out west, Elliott is as locked in as he's ever been.

"You've gotta [keep] working out," he said. "You can't come into camp out of shape."

When things do officially kick off in Oxnard and a few weeks later in Cleveland for the regular season opener against the Browns, Elliott will get his first taste of what Mike McCarthy's plan for a RB-by-committee looks like.

There is no shortage of bodies in that room, despite the departure of Tony Pollard in free agency, with Rico Dowdle re-signed on a one-year deal to tandem atop the depth chart with Elliott and a slew of competition behind them for the right to own the RB3 seat.

It'll easily be one of the most critical position battles in training camp, and Elliott is focused on making sure he's leading both on and off of the field.

"We've got eight backs right now, so plenty of depth," said the three-time Pro Bowler. "We've got a lot of good, young players that bring a lot of good things to the table. I'm excited to get to work with them in camp and help them to continue to develop. [I've got] eight years with however many carries, however many reps and however many blitz pickups, just the experience.

"I've seen just about everything. I just want to give them a little bit of my experience and any tidbit that can help them with their game."

He doesn't know exactly what RB-by-committee will ultimately manifest itself as but, to Elliott, that's neither here nor there.

All that matters to him is winning games, and he'll morph into whatever Prescott, McCarthy and the Cowboys need him to be in order to achieve that singular goal. .

"I don't know exactly what it looks like, but we'll see," he said. "I love football, so I'm gonna do anything it takes for me to help this team win — whatever that is."

Avengers, assemble.