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Elliott lags in rushing race as Cowboys offense hums along

Wed Nov 20 6:35pm ET
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Dak Prescott, Blake Jarwin, Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey

Detroit Lions offensive tackle Taylor Decker, left, hugs Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) after an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


FRISCO, Texas (AP) Ezekiel Elliott lost interest in talking about another 40-yard outing because the star Dallas running back said he felt awkward discussing his struggles in a game the Cowboys won.

Center Travis Frederick started his assessment of the run game with a reminder that there might be a reason Dak Prescott had the most yards passing in a three-game stretch in franchise history.

This season is shaping up as Elliott's first full year without a rushing title, and is already notable as the first with consecutive games of fewer than 50 yards rushing. It could also be the first time Dallas has the NFL's No. 1 offense, its current ranking, in more than 40 years.

''I'm going to be a lot more worried when he gets bottled up and we can't pass the ball,'' Frederick said of Elliott, the two-time rushing champion who is eighth this year and more than 200 yards behind leader Christian McCaffrey of Carolina with six games to go.

''At some point we're going to find a defense that is doing a certain thing to make it work on both sides and then at that point we have to hopefully have the background to be able to step around that, find a workaround for that.''

And that very well could be Sunday when the Cowboys (6-4) visit New England (9-1) and the league's No. 1 defense, the only one allowing fewer than 100 yards rushing and 200 yards passing per game.

While Elliott is tied for the NFL lead with McCaffrey and second-leading rusher Dalvin Cook of Minnesota with five 100-yard games apiece, his highest total in the other five games is 62 yards, with a per-carry average of 3.1 yards.

The Vikings made sure Elliott didn't beat them two weeks ago, holding him to 47 yards on 20 carries and escaping with a 28-24 win by forcing a turnover on downs inside their 15 when the Cowboys went to Elliott on three straight plays.

Detroit had the same idea last weekend, but Elliott managed touchdowns on a 1-yard plunge and a 17-yard screen while being held to 45 yards on 16 carries in his second straight game without a carry of at least 10 yards.

Oh, and Prescott had 444 yards passing with three TDs in Dallas' 35-27 victory.

''As long as the offense is rolling, it's good,'' said Elliott, who has 833 yards rushing and seven touchdowns along with 220 yards receiving and one score. ''We know we've got some work to do on the run game. Week in and week out, we're going to attack that and we're going to get better in the run game.''

The Cowboys were stubborn about it against the Vikings, which cost them with a chance to take the lead late. Facing third down when trying to run out the clock against Detroit, Prescott faked to Elliott and threw a clinching first-down pass to wide-open tight end Blake Jarwin.

''I think it's unfair to judge it just pass game and just run game,'' Frederick said. ''I agree with everybody here. The run game was not as productive as you would hope, as you claim to be a running team. But I would say the offense was productive as a whole.''

Part of the discussion is moot. The Cowboys just gave Elliott a $90 million, six-year extension to end a preseason-long holdout. Even with Prescott in the top five in yards passing, touchdowns and completions, the team's identity isn't changing that fast.

''We love giving him the ball,'' coach Jason Garrett said. ''Even a game like (Detroit), when the running game is a little bit more challenging, you look at all those really good 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-yard runs that he made throughout the game. We think a lot of him.''

And Elliott doesn't need a pep talk, particularly after wins.

''I think if you have a problem keeping your spirits up when you win a football game ... when you win a football game, you are excited, you are happy,'' Elliott said. ''All the other stuff will handle itself. I've always said that.''

For Elliott, any other approach is just ... awkward.

NOTES: With CB Anthony Brown sidelined for the season by a torn triceps, the Cowboys signed Deante Burton off the Indianapolis practice squad. Burton has spent time with five teams in three seasons after going undrafted out of Kansas State in 2017. ... S Jeff Heath was a full participant in practice Wednesday after missing the Detroit game with shoulder injuries.

Player Notes
Marquise Goodwin Dec 10 5:33pm ET

San Francisco 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a knee injury on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

From TheHuddle

Demaryius Thomas Dec 10 5:23pm ET

New York Jets S Jamal Adams (ankle), OT Chuma Edoga (knee), TE Ryan Griffin (ankle), CB Arthur Maulet (calf), CB Brian Poole (concussion), RB Bilal Powell (ankle, illness), WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) and DL Quinnen Williams (neck) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 10. OT Kelvin Beachum (ankles), S Matthias Farley (ankle), DL Steve McLendon (knee, hip), RB Ty Montgomery (foot, hip) and DL Nathan Shepherd (ankle) were limited. RB Le'Veon Bell (illness), CB Maurice Canady (shoulder), OL Tom Compton (ankle), QB Sam Darnold (knee, thumb), QB David Fales (elbow) and LB Paul Worrilow (quad) participated in full.

From TheHuddle

Mark Ingram Dec 10 5:13pm ET

Baltimore Ravens LB Chris Board (concussion), DB Anthony Levine (ankle), OT Ronnie Stanley (concussion), RB Mark Ingram (non-injury), S Earl Thomas (non-injury) and DT Brandon Williams (non-injury) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 10. TE Mark Andrews (knee), QB Lamar Jackson (quad) and DE Jihad Ward (elbow) were limited.

From TheHuddle

Calvin Ridley Dec 10 4:53pm ET

Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (abdominal) and CB Desmond Trufant (forearm) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list on Tuesday, Dec. 10. LB Ahmad Thomas was signed to the active roster, while TE Carson Meier and LB Quentin Poling were added to the practice squad.

From TheHuddle

Alshon Jeffery Dec 10 4:43pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (foot) is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury he suffered in Week 14 against the New York Giants, according to a source. The team is still reportedly gathering opinions about the exact injury, however.

Fantasy Spin: This injury wraps up yet another injury-shortened season for the 29-year-old, who has played a full season once in the last five years - averaging only 12 games over that span. Jeffrey is still due $12.75 million over each of the final two years of his deal, so he's probably not going anywhere this offseason. With Nelson Agholor also ailing, the Eagles could be forced to finish the season with Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and a few practice squad players at the position.

From TheHuddle

Rodney Gunter Dec 10 4:33pm ET

Arizona Cardinals DL Rodney Gunter (toe) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a toe injury on Tuesday, Dec. 10. DL Caraun Reid (Cardinals) was re-signed to an undisclosed contract to replace him on the roster after getting released over the weekend.

From TheHuddle

Simeon Thomas Dec 10 4:23pm ET

Washington Redskins CB Simeon Thomas was handed a four-game suspension by the NFL on Tuesday, Dec. 10, for violating the league's policy and program on substances of abuse.

From TheHuddle

Marvin Jones Dec 10 4:23pm ET

Detroit Lions WR Marvin Jones (ankle) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with an ankle injury on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Fantasy Spin: The hits just keep coming for Detroit, which figures to lean on Kenny Golladay even more the rest of the way. Danny Amendola should also see more targets as well.

From TheHuddle

Auden Tate Dec 10 3:40pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate (knee) was placed on the injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season. Tate sustained a mild MCL sprain in his left knee in the third quarter of the teams Week 14 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Damion Willis was promoted to the active roster in a corresponding roster move. Tate took advantage of all the injuries to the Bengals receiving corps this season, racking up a career-high 40 catches for 575 yards and one touchdown, and is a worthy hold in dynasty leagues heading into his third season.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp Dec 10 3:23pm ET

Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp played only 20 of a possible 68 snaps in Week 14 versus the Seattle Seahawks.

Fantasy Spin: By comparison, Kupp logged 57 snaps in Week 13. Head coach Sean McVay defended the move by suggesting it was the cost of doing business in order to establish some offensive balance on early downs. However, the flaw in that reasoning is that Kupp's playing time should not be cut in favor of backup tight end Johnny Mundt. Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks didn't make a catch in his 61 snaps. Expect Kupp to return to his normal snap count in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys.

From TheHuddle

Jamar Taylor Dec 10 3:13pm ET

Free-agent CB Jamar Taylor (Seahawks) signed an undisclosed contract with the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

From TheHuddle

Le'Veon Bell Dec 10 3:03pm ET

New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell is among the players the team is expected to make available via trade this offseason, according to sources.

Fantasy Spin: Bell is averaging only 49.1 yards rushing behind one of the league's worst offensive lines in his first season with the Jets, and it is becoming increasingly clear head coach Adam Gase either can't find a way to keep him involved in the offense or doesn't want to. A trade will be hard to accomplish as well, as the Jets would take a $15.5 million cap hit if they deal him and his hypothetical new team would have to find a way to fit one of the larger contracts at his position onto the roster.

From TheHuddle

Auden Tate Dec 10 2:53pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals WR Auden Tate (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a sprained left medial collateral ligament Tuesday, Dec. 10. WR Damion Willis was elevated from the practice squad to replace him on the roster.

Fantasy Spin: Tate's emergence was probably the best thing to happen to the Bengals in an otherwise lost season. Assuming A.J. Green re-signs with the team in the offseason, Tate will probably push John Ross for the other starting outside job while Tyler Boyd remains the main slot receiver. Tate, who finishes this season with 40 catches for 575 yards and a touchdown, should be considered a solid late-round flier next summer in fantasy drafts.

From TheHuddle

Cedrick Wilson Dec 10 2:43pm ET

Dallas Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Dec. 10. OT Mitch Hyatt was elevated from the practice squad to replace him on the roster.

From TheHuddle

Parris Campbell Dec 10 2:40pm ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (foot) has been placed on Injured Reserve ending his season. It's an unfortunate, yet fitting, end to the rookie's season having battled injuries to his hamstring, abdomen, and a broken hand before a fractured foot put him on season-ending IR. Campbell finishes his rookie season with 18 catches for 127 yards and one touchdown. The Colts are still unsure of T.Y. Hilton's (calf) status for their Monday night game vs New Orleans, but it's looking increasingly likely Hilton misses the game. Assuming Hilton is out, Zach Pascal has interesting WR3 value with Marcus Johnson also in the mix in deeper fantasy leagues.

From RotoBaller

James Conner Dec 10 2:30pm ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers are expecting to get wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and running back James Conner (shoulder) back in time for their Week 15 game against the Buffalo Bills. Neither has played since getting injured against the Cleveland Browns in Week 11. Both players are expected to practice this week in what would be a big boost to the Pittsburgh offense as the team looks to remain in the playoff picture. Conner's return would come at an especially good time as Jaylen Samuels is looking questionable for this weekend with a groin injury. That being said, fantasy GMs need to temper their expectations for both players as the Bills have been stout on defense this season.

From RotoBaller

Calvin Ridley Dec 10 2:20pm ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (abdomen) will be out for the remainder of the season after suffering an abdominal injury during the first half of Week 14's win over the Carolina Panthers. Ridley had a big game before the injury, catching five balls for 76 yards and a touchdown but went down before halftime and was unable to stand on his own. He was carted off the field and looked to be in significant pain. With Ridley out look for Russell Gage to slide in as the No. 2 receiver in Atlanta opposite Julio Jones. Gage is worth a look as a flex play in fantasy leagues going forward.

From RotoBaller

Bilal Powell Dec 10 2:20pm ET

New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (ankle, illness) is not expected to play Thursday night at Baltimore. Powell, who was filling in for Le'Veon Bell (illness) injured his ankle at the end of the Jets Week 14 win over the Dolphins. Powell is also apparently dealing with the flu but head coach Adam Gase said the ankle is the bigger concern right now. Powell is yet to officially be ruled out, but all signs are pointing to him not suiting up this week. The good news for New York is Bell is reportedly close to 100 percent and should reclaim his starting role with Ty Montgomery working as a change of pace back. Powell can safely be dropped by those that picked him up for the Miami game.

From RotoBaller

D.J. Chark Dec 10 2:10pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (ankle) was spotted in a walking boot on Monday and left the locker room using a scooter. Head coach Doug Marrone told reporters that Chark is "week-to-week" with the injury, which puts the remainder of his season in jeopardy. Chark broke out in a big way for Jacksonville in 2019, catching 67 balls for 956 yards and eight touchdowns. With Chark sidelined, look for Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, and Keelan Cole to all see more chances within the Jacksonville passing attack.

From RotoBaller

Vance McDonald Dec 10 2:03pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Vance McDonald (concussion) is in the concussion protocol following the Week 14 game.

From TheHuddle