Who's the NFL MVP: Our sampling of executives gives Ezekiel Elliott the edge - Tom Pelissero, USA Today
There's no clear-cut favorite for the MVP, but a sampling of league executives who talked to Tom Pelissero picks Ezekiel Elliott.
If the national panel that selects the NFL’s recognized Most Valuable Player award is seeing this season the same way as the league’s top evaluators, the upcoming vote is going to be divided — and could potentially produce a rare rookie winner.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was the MVP pick in a USA TODAY Sports poll this week of high-ranking executives representing 12 NFL teams, who discussed their votes with USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because they’re not allowed to comment publicly about other teams’ players.
"He’s changed their team," one NFL general manager told USA TODAY Sports. "They’ve had that offensive line for a couple years now. He’s come in there and dominated games. He’s running over people and smashing people. He’s a dominant force."
Said another GM: "People are rare when they have that size and speed, and then he has the intangibles. He knows when to hit the hole hard. He knows when to slow down for a certain block, and then he’s got the burst to accelerate through. He’s going to be one of the top backs ever. Dallas can lose three offensive starting linemen and he would still be successful."
Video: Ezekiel Elliott is Rookie of the Week - NFL.com
Ezekiel Elliott was named Rookie of the Week for third straight week. Elliott and Dak Prescott have now both been named Rookie of the Week four times.
2016 NFL Draft do-over: Rams pick Dak Prescott No. 1 - NFL.com
Dak Prescott had to wait until Round 4 to hear his name called in the 2016 draft, but the rookie QB gets the glory in Bucky Brooks' redo, going No. 1 overall to the Rams, while Ezekiel Elliott still lands with the Cowboys at No. 4.
Dak Prescott humbled to make Pro Bowl - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram
Prescott has gone from being a fourth-round project to being a Pro Bowler. And through all the accolades he's received, Prescott makes sure to share the credit.
He credited his teammates, especially fellow Pro Bowlers center Travis Frederick, guard Zack Martin and tackle Tyron Smith, for his success.
"It’s humbling," Prescott said. "But I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it without this team. Obviously, those three guys up front who made Pro Bowl, I mean, Dez, all of my receivers, Cole playing at a high level this year, Zeke a Pro Bowl running back, I’ve obviously got great playmakers around me that allow me to have fun out there."
Dez Bryant on Dak, Zeke MVP talk: "One of them going to get it, and they both deserve it...They're going to keep on fighting to the end."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 24, 2016
Cowboys want 'to keep edge' in playoffs, no plans to rest starters - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram
The Cowboys plan on treating Monday night’s game against Detroit as a must-win, even though they have locked up the NFC’s top seed.
Coach Jason Garrett made it clear that he intends to get his team ready to play and win the final two ballgames. Looking too far ahead breaks his daily message of focusing on the task at hand.
The players certainly have bought into it.
"We’re going to treat it like any other week," Dez Bryant said. "We went hard today just like any other day of practice."
"It’s a fine accomplishment to be able to win the division and make this thing have an opportunity to go through Dallas with the No. 1 seed," tight end Jason Witten said. "It’s simply that. It’s a fine accomplishment for our football team. You recognize that and you got to move forward. It’s great for our organization, for our city, for our fans. And certainly Mr. Jones.
"But I think we all understand we have to move forward and realize what is in front of us."
No real celebration for Cowboys as they return to work - Charean Williams, The Star-Telegram
Despite clinching the # 1 seed, it was business as usual for the Cowboys at practice on Friday.
"We had a short team meeting this morning really to talk about the daily schedule and addressed it," Garrett said. "Congratulated our guys. But again our focus is on what we need to do today to prepare to play our best football on Monday night."
Garrett said nothing changes for the Cowboys despite having everything clinched. They will continue to play their healthy starters.
"What we need to do is play our best football," Garrett said. "That’s what we’re going to focus on. We’ll focus on that in practice today. We’ll practice tomorrow leading up to the game on Monday. Then, we’re going to play the game as well as we can play it, with all hands on deck. We’re going to play at a high level and hopefully our preparation carries over into the game."
Dez Bryant: Nothing to celebrate, 'we all know what we're trying to reach' Jon Machota, SportsDay
Even Dez Bryant is beginning to sound like Jason Garrett. Here, that's a good thing.
"Really nothing to celebrate yet," Bryant said. "Of course you're extremely excited for it, but there's a lot more football. The playoffs are totally different from the season. You one and done. You got to get your mind right. And get back to business. That's what the mindset is."
"We're going to continue to keep practicing hard," Bryant said. "We all know what we're trying to reach. Just like every other team. Yeah we're excited, but the same time we got to continue to keep working. We have to keep that edge. We have to stay focused."
Jerry Jones says the Cowboys will use 2007 playoff exit as a guide - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram
Jones weighs in on whether the Cowboys will rest their starters.
Owner Jerry Jones said the team will lean on the lessons they learned in 2007 when they finished 13-3 and had home-field advantage under then coach Wade Phillips. The team rested their starters in the season final. And the Cowboys lost their first playoff game against the New York Giants.
"It's an age old question and certainly deserves to be a question," Jones said on his radio show on 105.3 The Fan. "How much do you want to be playing well? How much edge do you want to have? I know that in our season here with Wade Phillips. We had a great season and then we turned around and got into the playoffs and rested pretty good the last ballgame. And we ended up losing the first playoff game that we had with home-field bye all the way through. That's going to bear heavily our experience there with Wade in '07 will weigh heavily on any thoughts I have about who plays."
Activating Randy Gregory could cost one of these 4 Cowboys their jobs - KD Drummond, Cowboys Wire
KD suggests one player out of the quartet of DE Ryan Davis, DE Zach Moore, CB Leon McFadden, or S Kavon Frazier might be released to make room for Gregory.
Randy Gregory has caught Rod Marinelli's eye with practice work - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer writes that Gregory has impressed the Cowboys in practice this week with his explosiveness and added size.
"He’s looked good. I mean, he’s so explosive off the ball. That’s all the same. He’s thicker. He’s bigger. He’s gained weight," Marinelli said. "And he looks really good but now I think as you go, it’s not so much winning the rush, it’s building the foundation to rush, if that makes sense, [with] his get-off and his pad level. I just want him to get to work and go, and then he can, I think, if he’s doing that he’ll help us impact the game."