The Dallas Cowboys are 7-4 and in first place in the NFC East; they have lost two straight games.
By this point in the season, all teams and players are banged up.
The Cowboys are no different.
Most often, players are playing through the injuries.
That seemed to be the strategy for Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott before the team’s Thanksgiving game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
At the time, Elliott, who has been dealing with a knee injury that happened in the Week 11 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, talked about playing through the pain.
What Elliott Said
Elliott implied that he feels the pain from his knee injury for the entire week.
He also shrugged it off by saying,
“You’re not going to be 100 percent. I’m tough. I can play through it.”
Ezekiel Elliott admits his knee hurts for a bit if he lands on it but it’s not enough to keep him from playing. Asked when he starts to feel good again after a game, he paused and winked, “Game day,” adding, “You’re not going to be 100 percent. I’m tough. I can play through it.”
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) November 24, 2021
During the Raiders game, it became apparent that Elliott’s knee was bothering him.
#Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy says RB Ezekiel Elliott’s knee was bothering him a bit “think that was pretty obvious”
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) November 26, 2021
Coach Mike McCarthy is concerned about him playing through pain.
“I am concerned. He’s a warrior and was fighting to get back there in every time. … Zeke’s running style is ferocious. He gives a pounding and takes some hits. We need to evaluate.”
That Plan May Have Changed
Playing through his knee injury seems to be an idea from the past.
Cowboys beat reporter Ed Werder is reporting that the team is considering giving Elliott time off to heal the knee injury.
That time off would not be as long-term or radical as a stint on injured reserve, but it could mean that Elliott would sit out the Cowboys Week 13 game against New Orleans.
Source: #Cowboys will consider providing running back Ezekiel Elliott time off to heal from the knee injury he’s been managing, including the possibility of holding him out of next Thursday night’s game in New Orleans, according to a source. IR not believed a consideration
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) November 26, 2021
After the Week 12 loss, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said:
“This knee injury, a bone bruise in his knee, is something that’s going to linger all season unless they step in and basically take Zeke off the field.”
17 Game Regular Season
With an additional regular-season game and the Cowboys currently in the playoff picture as the projected winner of the NFC East (if they continue to play as well as they had before Week 11), it is not a bad idea to rest Elliott.
Tony Pollard should be able to carry the load against a 5-6 New Orleans Saints team decimated by injuries.
Translation: The Cowboys think they’ll be fine against the Saints without him https://t.co/kUtcSFUemP
— Jeff Nowak (@Jeff_Nowak) November 26, 2021
The Cowboys will need a healthy Elliott (and Pollard) in the final stretch of the season.
4 out of the 5 final games are against NFC East opponents including two meetings with the Washington Football Team, one with the New York Giants, and one with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Elliott has played better in 2021 than in 2020.
He has 8 touchdowns and 720 yards rushing.
Elliott added 1 receiving touchdown and 228 receiving yards.
Resting him hopefully gives him the time needed to heal and prepare for the end of the season and a playoff run.