FRISCO - It is a Dallas Cowboys tradition.
Retired stars from one era support budding stars from the next. Roger Staubach to Troy Aikman to Tony Romo to Dak Prescott is a classic example. But legendary Dallas running back Emmitt Smith being in the middle of his positional chain is classic as well - and Emmitt, as you can imagine, is fully supportive of the future of Ezekiel Elliott.
And he suggests a post-COVID bounce-back as a reason for optimism.
“I don’t think you have (seen the best of Zeke),'' said the NFL's all-time leading rusher of Elliott, the two-time league rushing champion who did not put up his usual big numbers in Dallas 6-10 campaign in 2020. "I think with Ezekiel Elliott, many people forget that Zeke had COVID-19 before the season even got started. And no one knows what COVID-19 will do to your body until you go through it.''
Emmitt, joining Pro Football Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen on the Great Dane Nation Podcast presented by VegasInsider.com, theorizes that you could see changes in Elliott's frame that could've been the result of Zeke's offseason bout with COVID.
"If you look at his body and play through the first five or six weeks of the season, his body structure, his weight looked a little bit different than the latter part of the season,'' Emmitt said. "Physically you just look at him, he looks a lot leaner in the latter part of the season than he did in the first part of the season.''
Smith isn't pretending that Zeke didn't have some performance issues - including that nasty ball-handling problem. But Elliott - who after all is just 25 - will fix the issues, and that in 2021 the Dallas backfield will be improved not only due to the return of QB Dak Prescott but also due to some help from backup runner Tony Pollard.
"In the first part of the season, obviously he had some fumbling issues,'' Emmitt said. "I do believe that Zeke will be better for what he had gone through this year. And he will be prepared and probably start to take care of himself differently for what he has gone through this year. And I think with Tony Pollard, there’s a great one-two punch.''
It's a Cowboys tradition. Emmitt's support extends even to Tony Pollard ... and, following history, features support of Ezekiel Elliott.
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