Dak Prescott only thought he felt pressure before as the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback. Now, he may have to start 2017 without his star running back.
Cowboys second-year running back Ezekiel Elliott faces a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy, the league announced Friday.
Elliott is expected to appeal the suspension.
Elliott’s suspension comes in the wake of an investigation into domestic violence allegations, stemming from an incident last year in Columbus, Ohio. Elliott, a former Ohio State running back, was not charged in the case, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to hand down penalties to players even in cases that do not enter the legal system.
In a letter to Elliott advising him of the decision, Todd Jones, the NFL’s special counsel for conduct, said the league was of the view “that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that (Elliott) engaged in physical violence” against a woman in June 2016.
If the suspension remains in place, Elliott would miss games against the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers – a group that includes four likely playoff contenders.
Without Elliott, one half of the Cowboys’ sensational rookie tandem that helped Dallas win the NFC East last season, Prescott will have to work even harder to keep Dallas on top of a fiercely contested division.
As former Cowboys executive and longtime NFL personnel analyst Gil Brandt noted, Elliott’s presence on the field made a big difference for Prescott and Dallas in 2016.
Cowboys offense with/without Elliott on field in 2016:
Yards per play 6.2/5.4
Yards per rush 5.1/3.8
Passer rating 113.5/88.1 https://t.co/dltVoihOwP
— Gil Bra🐐dt (@Gil_Brandt) August 11, 2017
Elliott rushed for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, earning first-team All-Pro honors. His 1,994 yards from scrimmage were the third-most by a rookie in NFL history.
In his place, Prescott and the Cowboys may have to lean on Darren McFadden. McFadden, a Heisman Trophy runner-up during his days at Arkansas, rushed for 1,089 yards for the Cowboys in 2015 but missed much of last season with an elbow fracture.
If Prescott can keep the Cowboys ahead of their division rivals, including a resurgent Giants team with Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram and Landon Collins, he’ll really earn the title that GQ handed him in this month’s issue: “America’s Quarterback.”
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