By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
After 12 weeks, it appears as though Ezekiel Elliott has also broken the tackle attempt of the Rookie Wall.
Elliott, the league leader in rushing with 1,199 yards, also happens to lead the NFL in attempts (243, 22.1 per game). The workload has been hefty, especially for a face that is still fresh to the league. That doesn’t worry Jerry Jones.
“The more we can give Ezekiel the ball the better,” the Cowboys owner said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan, per The Dallas Morning News. “We’re winning with that. We’re winning by wearing them down on defense.”
No matter how much he might be feeling himself and his 10-1 football team, Jones isn’t wrong. The Cowboys have established a run-first approach anchored by Elliott that is working better than any other in the league, and makes life (and the real-time maturation process) much easier for rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.
Where the jury remains out is on if and when Elliott does come in contact with the aforementioned wall. League legend states it tends to appear, seemingly out of nowhere, around Week 10 or later. Week 13 action begins Thursday with the Cowboys‘ game against the Minnesota Vikings, and judging by Elliott’s latest performance (20 carries, 97 yards, two touchdowns; two catches, 23 yards) in a Thanksgiving Day win over Washington, the meeting between Zeke and Wall might never happen.
“By game time I felt great, I feel fresh, I don’t feel the soreness anymore,” Elliott said after the win over Washington, via the Morning News. “This game wasn’t nearly as physical as the last one we played, so I think it was fine.”
Hall of Fame running back and former Cowboy rusher Emmitt Smith toted the rock 365 times (22.8 per game) in his second season in the NFL in 1991, rushing for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns, and increased that workload to 23.3 in 1992. Smith tallied 20 or more carries per game in every season from 1991-1996. That didn’t seem to have much of a negative effect on him.
We’ve waxed poetic about Elliott’s rare combination of size and speed, which makes him hard to wrap and even tougher to catch. That is also aiding him in terms of durability. And we can’t forget the offensive line behind which he runs, which often opens holes wide enough for four Elliotts to run through at once.