FRISCO - Ezekiel Elliott feels so good about his balky knee that he believes he could dump the knee brace that he’s been wearing for the first time in his six-year NFL career.
Now, the Dallas Cowboys bell-cow running isn’t going to dump the knee brace for the Sunday playoff visit to AT&T Stadium from the San Francisco 49ers.
But he could. So that’s something, right?
“I feel really good,” Elliott said on Wednesday from here at The Star. “Knee feels solid. Not getting any stiffness in it any more.”
Indeed, for the first time in forever, the Wednesday injury/practice report does not mention "Ezekiel Elliott, Knee.''
Dallas’ star running back has for months been dealing with a knee problem that we believe to be ligament-related. The perennial Pro Bowl runner didn’t get that honor this year though he played in all 17 games this season while playing hurt. He demonstrated his value as an all-around player even as the knee slowed him, and Elliott did return to the 1,000-yard rusher level.
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None of that matters now, not compared to health that will lead to production that will lead to victory.
Zeke said he doesn’t need the knee brace any more in terms of the injury but that he’ll continue to wear it for extra stability - in other words, it has become a psychological comfort as much as anything else.
Elliott’s work as a pass-blocker and receiver are important, and he did produce double-figure touchdowns. In tandem with Tony Pollard (expected to play despite a foot ailment), Zeke may be asked to “out-physical” a muscular Niners defense.
Elliott remains a complete back (as a pass-blocker and receiver, too) and a punishing runner, even as the knee has robbed him of some of the elusiveness planned when he dropped 10 pounds last offseason. The Cowboys recognize that the 49ers offense offers a combination of ball control and explosiveness.
Can Dallas' Dak Prescott-led offense combat that with the same dual production? Ezekiel Elliott's knee seems to be saying, "Yes.''