Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, A Louder Leader

Mike Fisher
May 24, 2018 - 8:06 am
Ezekiel Elliott

© Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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FRISCO (105.3 THE FAN) - The presence of Ezekiel Elliott is louder. The praise of Ezekiel Elliott is quieter.

“I have been a little more vocal,” said Dallas Cowboys running back Elliott, the NFL's leading rusher as a rookie hoping to return to those heights this year. “That’s definitely something I’m focusing in on this offseason. Not only leading by example, but coming out and encouraging guys.''

Zeke as a leader?

He's always possessed an attention-gathering personality. I've chronicled often his bouncy behavior on Cowboys road trips, when his "class clown'' persona adds pep to everybody's step.

But in 2018? The departure of Jason Witten and others has created a void. The retired Witten called on Elliott and other "young bucks'' to take his leadership baton. Zeke is responding ... and trying to get his young teammates to respond to him.

“I feel like we all need to do that,'' said Elliott after a Wednesday OTA workout at The Star during which he was audibly active in giving encouragement to teammates. "I think going into my third year, it’s about time. Me and (running backs coach Gary) Brown talked about that this offseason. We both thought that was something I should focus on.”

Elliott is the centerpiece of the Dallas offense, so naturally his 2017 six-game suspension stemming from domestic-violence allegations turned so much of that season upside-down.

And now? He's planning a return to greatness, easily dismissing the NFL Network's "Top 100" list that knocked him from No. 7 the previous year all the way down to No. 54.

“I’m excited for this year,” Elliott said. “I have high expectations for myself. ...I know the player I am. ... Everyone in the league knows the player I am. "So I don’t really need verification from a top-100 list.”

But his Cowboys? They need everything they can get from Ezekiel Elliott -- and yes, that includes his style of leadership, too.