LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys should soon find out if the running back will be eligible to play the rest of the season.
Elliott has another hearing Monday to decide whether he’ll serve a six-game suspension as a result of a yearlong NFL investigation that found he had multiple physical confrontations in 2016 with his girlfriend at the time.
“We need him, but what is important is that he gets a fair shake,” owner Jerry Jones said Sunday after Elliott ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-19 victory over the Washington Redskins. “Zeke has in no way, by any standard, done anything wrong. He’s done nothing wrong. We, the league, have tried to say that he’s done something that we disagree with. We all don’t agree with that. So I want him to get a fair shot. And he deserves that.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Elliott in August for six games, a ban that has been fought over in court since. Prosecutors in Ohio declined to pursue a criminal case, citing conflicting evidence.
“We’ve got a pretty good system in place in this country,” Jones said. “It’s called the legal system, and it has a lot of precedent and it’s made a lot of mistakes, but it’s the best one there probably is in the world in my view and for us to not basically recognize that, that’s a concern.”
With the 5-2 Kansas City Chiefs up next, the Cowboys hope they’ll have Elliott, who has run for 100-plus yards in three consecutive games and has four rushing touchdowns over the past two weeks. Elliott believes he’ll keep playing.
“I think we’re confident in our argument,” said Elliott, who will attend the hearing. “We’re confident I’ll be on the field for the rest of the year.”
Elliott has 690 yards rushing and six touchdowns and 210 yards receiving with two scores this season. Although the 22-year-old voiced confidence in fellow running backs Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith, Dallas doesn’t have someone else who can do what Elliott does at his level.
Because of that, the Cowboys are eager for some clarity that is expected to come out of Elliott’s hearing Monday.
“We’ll deal with it and go on, but, yeah, it’ll be beneficial, I guess, to say we’ll know if we have him or not,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “Hopefully we can get it all out the way. But it’s out of my control and out of his control for the most part. It’s up to the people that make those decisions, and we’re going to take it as a team and I know he will the right way and move forward.”
Some more things we learned from the Cowboys’ victory at the Redskins:
The Redskins have so many injuries along their offensive line that they were forced to use one player Sunday, Arie Kouandjio, who “just got out of his car yesterday” at the team facility, as coach Jay Gruden put it. Starters Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff and Spencer Long sat out against Dallas. A fourth starter, Shawn Lauvao, got a stinger and left the loss. The backup to Williams’ backup also left the game. Two of the team’s three active tight ends, Niles Paul (concussion) and Jordan Reed (right hamstring), departed, too. Getting some bodies back could make a big difference moving forward for Washington. “Never seen something like this before. Never, ever in my life,” cornerback Josh Norman said. “This was the first time for me, to see these types of injuries. Shoot, how many of our offensive linemen? Four? Five? … It’s crazy. Can’t really say enough about how crazy it is.”
IN NUGENT THEY TRUST: However long kicker Dan Bailey is out with a groin injury, the Cowboys should feel good about their kicking situation after Mike Nugent made four of his five field goal attempts against Washington. Nugent was wide left from 49 yards on his first kick before connecting from 36, 48, 27 and 37 yards. “He was money really throughout,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s a real steady guy. He’s somebody who’s calm, composed and a true professional.”
WASHINGTON’S TOUGH STRETCH
The Redskins (3-4) are already looking up at the Cowboys (4-3) and Eagles (7-1) in the NFC East — and an 0-3 division record doesn’t help matters when it comes to eventually trying to secure a playoff berth. The season could really spiral out of control now for Washington, which has a tough three-game stretch coming up: at Seattle, home against Minnesota, at New Orleans. That trio of conference foes is a combined 16-6 at the moment. “You back a … dog into a hole,” Norman said, “his only option is to come out scrapping.”
Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich contributed.
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