Ezekiel Elliott is expected back this weekend. After the star running back missed Week 8, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that he expects Elliott to be back on the field against the Packers on Sunday, per Jon Machota of The Athletic (on Twitter). Meanwhile, Elliott himself told Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that his knee is getting better and the swelling has decreased (Twitter link). If the RB does return this weekend, he acknowledged that he’ll wear a knee brace.
Elliott has started each of his seven appearances this season. While his 63.3 rushing yards per game is about on-par with his recent performance, his yards-per-touch is currently a career-low mark (4.1). Backup Tony Pollard showed up when he earned an opportunity to start prior to the bye, finishing with 131 rushing yards on 14 carries. Despite the numbers, Jones made it clear that he’s sticking with Elliott atop the depth chart.
“There’s no argument,” Jones recently said of replacing Elliott as the starting RB. “Zeke’s ability to punish, Zeke’s ability to deliver, Zeke’s ability, what he does for us in pass protection, and, frankly, Zeke’s ability to make big plays are there, and we’re going to go as Zeke goes. I really mean he’s that integral to our success this year.”
Some more injury notes from around the NFL…
- Meanwhile, Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith is about two or three weeks away from returning to practice, Stephen Jones recently said (via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas News on Twitter). If Smith requires his entire three-week window to get back into game shape, then the lineman could be eyeing a late-December return. The veteran offensive lineman suffered a hamstring injury during training camp that’s sidelined him for the first chunk of the season.
- While Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. landed on injured reserve earlier this month thanks to an ankle issue, the injury likely won’t require surgery, coach Kevin O’Connell said (via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Twitter). Smith Jr. hasn’t started a game yet this season but has put up his standard numbers, hauling in 22 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns through seven games.
- Damontae Kazee is expected to be activated off IR this week, and the Steelers safety provided some information on the injury that’s knocked him out for the first few months of the season. In addition to breaking his whole forearm, Kazee also suffered a dislocated wrist that “popped back into place during surgery,” per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor on Twitter. When he next takes the field, he’ll be armed with a padded brace to protect his arm. Kazee joined the Steelers this past offseason after starting 15 games for the Cowboys in 2021. Coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged how much veterans like Kazee and trade-deadline acquisition William Jackson III will help the defense. “Anytime you get veteran presences, it is an asset to you,” Tomlin said (via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic). “Been-there, done-that guys, and those guys are that.”
- Seahawks linebacker/special teams ace Cullen Gillaspia injured his knee on Sunday and will need surgery, according to ESPN’s Brady Henderson (on Twitter). Fortunately, the injury isn’t as bad as initially feared, but Gillaspia is still expected to be sidelined for some time. The former seventh-round pick joined the Seahawks practice squad back in September, but he’s since appeared in six games while playing the majority of Seattle’s special teams snaps.