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Are Dallas Cowboys 'Shutting Down' Injured RB Ezekiel Elliott?

There is buzz about "What to do about Zeke?'' in the building here at The Star.

FRISCO - For most of the 2021 season, Dallas Cowboys standout running back Ezekiel Elliott has been nursing a knee injury, an ailment that for the first time Zeke conceded might have impacted a game plan.

“Yeah, I don’t know,'' he said after the Cowboys' 36-33 OT loss to the Raiders on Thanksgiving. "I feel alright but, (the game plan) probably was (impacted).''

And now there is speculation that Elliott might beed to be limited going forward.

There is buzz about that in the building here at The Star, and there is also a report from NFL Network along those lines, Ian Rapoport on Friday saying Dallas might "alter'' the number of Elliott's touches.

“I am concerned because he’s a warrior,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday regarding Elliott’s situation. “He was fighting to get back in there Thursday. Zeke’s running style is ferocious.”

Regarding “altering” his participation? Fine. Rapoport's information mirrors ours. But the last two weeks, Zeke's carries have already been reduced. In this game, his backup, Tony Pollard took 10 carries for 36 yards. Elliott carried the ball nine times for 25 yards and a touchdown — punching in a one-yard score after a big receiving play by Pollard, who added four receptions for 32 yards and a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

So nine carries against the Raiders. And in last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, he was limited to nine touches.

"Altering'' the number down from nine carries moves us pretty near ... zero.

Part of the issue is the exact nature of the injury. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has termed it a "bone bruise,'' which sounds innocuous ... but a "bone bruise'' can actually be a fracture. Taking seven carries, say, next Thursday at New Orleans instead of, say, nine touches, is not going to cure a bone bruise.

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In other words, the idea of the Cowboys' "limiting'' Elliott's carries is, in a sense, already happening. And there is pretty close to only one further way to "limit'' his play.

And that's to not play him.

That, of course, is not Elliott's mindset.

It’s very important,'' he said regarding the return to the lineup of CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence, all of whom should play in Week 13. "We got four more division games left, in six weeks. We definitely gotta lock in and those division games are always gonna be tough. We gotta get ready to close it out.''

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