A lot of Cowboys fans probably had their hearts in their throats when news emerged of Ezekiel Elliott being in a car wreck, but he quickly tweeted he was all right, and had been in worse.
Elliott may be referring to a single-car accident he was involved in last year, prior to Ohio State's 44-28 win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. For that incident, Elliott received a citation and had to pay a fine for driving on a suspended license.
He traveled with the team and played in the Fiesta Bowl. He wasn't just fine. He was dominant against Notre Dame, rushing for 149 yards and four touchdowns.
Marcus Mosher takes a look at how different defensive alignments affected Elliott and the production of the Cowboys' running game. His conclusions are most encouraging.
The big takeaway is simple: Elliott can run out of any formation, on any down, versus any box with any play call and can find success. His ability to be scheme versatile makes him and the Cowboys' offense a nightmare to prepare for. There's no apparent weakness to his game and the offense can adapt to any type of defense depending on the gameplan for the week. As good as we think Elliott has been in 2016, we are still underrating him. His play this year is the reason the Cowboys will have a chance to win the Super Bowl, despite playing with a rookie quarterback and a less-than-stellar defense.
As good as Elliott has been, I still believe there's a lot of room for improvement for the rookie. The Cowboys have been cautious with Elliott's workload, trying to preserve his body not only for the playoffs but for the rest of his career. With a full year of experience and an off-season to prepare for the NFL grind, it wouldn't be shocking to see a big uptick n Elliott's production in 2017.
It sounds like Zeke is ready for the playoffs - and so is the whole team.
The rookie running back said he was working on getting tired and still performing mentally. He understands that's what he will be battling Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
"I think this was the best practice we've had all year," Elliott said. "You felt the energy. You felt the competitiveness."
In the postseason, team health can be one of the most crucial factors. Based on that, Dallas is in fantastic shape.
The Cowboys have gone through their fair share of injuries this year, from quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant, to left tackle Tyron Smith, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and many more.
But unlike the playoff contenders nursing current injuries - Seattle's missing safety Earl Thomas, Green Bay may be without receiver Jordy Nelson and the Patriots are down Rob Gronkowski, among others - the Cowboys are at their healthiest yet.
Just look at the injury reports for Dallas and Green Bay. A lot of those "limiteds", perhaps all, will suit up to play on Sunday.
A lot is being made of the Cowboys having rookie Dak Prescott leading them into the playoffs. As another quarterback playing at AT&T Stadium on Sunday might put it, R-E-L-A-X.
If there was an expectation that Prescott would look at his first playoff game -- against those same Packers -- any differently than the 16 regular-season games he started, you haven't been paying attention. Prescott's poise and composure have been the most talked-about traits by his coaches this season.
"I think it's probably part of his DNA," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He's a really poised, composed person, got a great perspective on life, great perspective on football. Focuses on what he needs to do to be his best. At every turn, that's how he's handled himself."
The foundation of the Cowboys' offense is clearly built on All Pro linemen Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. It was both luck and a drastic change in the draft philosophy that led to things as they now stand, as owner/GM/always talking team spokesman Jerry Jones acknowledged.
"All I'm saying is, when I look at how we ended up with these linemen, I can't really tell you that it was designed for three years [out of four] to step up there and draft offensive linemen," Jones said. "I'm not trying to take away from it. It didn't feel bad to go do it because we knew that if they panned out..."
They have panned out. Smith signed an eight-year extension worth $98 million in 2014. Frederick signed a $56 million contract extension in August. Martin is eligible to sign a long-term deal this offseason, and the Cowboys want that to happen.
This is an excellent breakdown, with some very good video, of just how valuable Frederick has become to the Cowboys.
An offensive lineman endures a special kind of physical punishment. The wear and tear from repeatedly crashing into defenders breaks down the body in ways that many will never understand. Sore backs and brittle hands are just a couple of the ailments that each offensive lineman battles through in a season.
Moreover, playing offensive line takes quite a bit of mental aptitude as well. The ability to identify blitzes, carry out protection checks and pass off stunts is as cerebral as a quarterback identifying the "Mike" linebacker and reading a defense.
The players who can seamlessly marry the physical and mental aspects of offensive line play are the ones who are the most exceptional.
Travis Frederick is that kind of player.
The Sturminator takes a look at the challenge presented by Rodgers, and sums up what has to be done to keep him from beating you.
To stop Rodgers, you hope to keep his options covered, keep him under duress, and then hope he is a hair off. When a guy throws 40 touchdowns and seven interceptions, you realize he isn't off very often. You don't have to worry about a running game. You don't have to worry about an unguardable receiver. You simply have to worry about this guy doing his thing.
Aaron Rodgers burned the New York Giants badly with a Hail Mary touchdown, but the Cowboys don't plan on letting that happen to them.
"We spend a lot of time on it, in the offseason, in training camp, and then get a refresher course every week for both sides of the ball," coach Jason Garrett said. "Obviously, Green Bay has been great at that. It's one of those plays that sometimes you say, ‘Do we really need to practice this again?' We say, ‘Yes, you need to work on it.' There are a lot of details that go into that play on both sides of the ball. Oftentimes it comes down to making a huge difference in the ballgame, whether it's at the end of the half or at the end of the game. So we want to be good in those situations."
Job one for the Cowboys' defense is stopping Rodgers. He had an amusing take on defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and his Marines-learned method of expressing himself.
"He's a coach that has occasionally yelled some things at me," Rodgers said with a laugh during Wednesday's teleconference. "I like his fire, man. He's a competitive S.O.B. I enjoy it. I have a lot of respect for him and enjoy watching his teams play."
How do you like the sound of "Las Vegas Raiders"? You might want to get used to it, because Raiders owner Mark Davis now has the support of two of the most influential teams in the NFL to make the move.
Both Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones said today that they think the plan for the Raiders' move looks good.
Finally, here is the latest installment in the excellent series of #FinishThisFight videos from DallasCowboys.com.