FRISCO - The 2020 NFL season was a disappointing one for not only the Dallas Cowboys as a team, but particularly for star running back Ezekiel Elliott.
He is looking to flip the script in a major way, starting with holding on to the football.
Last season was by far the least productive of Elliott's career. In 15 games, he finished with 244 carries, 979 rushing yards (4.0 yards per carry) and only six rushing touchdowns. What cannot go without being mentioned: Six fumbles.
Much of Elliott's production in key categories was the worst of his five-year NFL career. The disappointing campaign served as a major source of motivation for him throughout the offseason.
"Just having the year I had last year. You don't need more motivation than that," Elliott said as the Cowboys opened training camp in Oxnard, California. "I just know the type of player I am. I don't think I showed that last year. I got a lot to prove. I just made sure I didn't leave any doubt out there that I didn't do as much as I needed to do."
While only having quarterback Dak Prescott in the lineup for five games certainly played a factor in Elliott's diminished production, the three-time Pro Bowler shockingly struggled with fumbling.
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Elliott made it clear that cleaning up his fumbling problem was his top priority to address in his offseason development program.
"Number one, fumbling the ball," Elliott said. "I've never been a fumbler. When you carry the ball, you kind of carry the whole hope of the whole team, organization and fan base. If you cough it up and give it to the other team, you're letting everyone down so I mean that's the No. 1 thing that's my focus this year is protecting the ball."
With great detail, Elliott - who answered our Mike Fisher's question about his weight reduction here - dug deep into some of the factors that were in play that contributed to his fumbling problem last season. A wrist injury he suffered in college and being loose with the ball when making ball carrier moves were two key details he emphasized.
"I think a lot of it is, which is hard, I've had to battle a wrist injury and I've always carried the ball in my left hand so I'm running to the right or I'm running to the left and I've got my right hand I'm leaving myself exposed," Elliott said. "That happened a couple of times. A lot of times I got loose with it, trying to make a move and let it get away from my body. But, I mean, repetition and focusing on keeping the ball close to my body and keeping it tight and just practice. That's all it's going to take."
For a player to resolve a particular weakness, it's pivotal to pinpoint the key causes for that underwhelming result. Elliott seems to have a firm grasp on what contributed to his fumbling problem and made it a priority to address it.
"It's my job to make sure I don't fumble it," he said. "I've just got to focus on that every day and just continue to work hard at it and fix it. It doesn't matter."