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Cowboys news: Ezekiel Elliott loses in court; what to expect from Cowboys RBs in 6 games without Elliott?

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Elliott's suspension starts immediately; offense faces new challenge; more

Indianapolis Colts v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Ezekiel Elliott suspension set to start again after ruling - NFL.com, Austin Knoblauch
A federal judge denied the NFL Players Association's request for a preliminary injunction in the Ezekiel Elliott case on Monday, which will reinstate the Dallas Cowboys running back's suspension.

Elliott's chances of returning to the field are growing smaller, but he still has legal options. The union could file an appeal with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to NFL Network legal analyst Gabe Feldman.

The decision comes two weeks after the same court granted the union's request for a temporary restraining order that put Elliott's suspension on hold after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case. Failla turned down the NFL's request for an expedited hearing last week, which allowed the second-year running back to play Sunday against the Washington Redskins. Elliott's suspension has actually gone into effect two separate times this season, but he hasn't missed a game.

Unless his lawyers manage to get his suspension lifted again, Elliott is set to miss the next six games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Chargers, Redskins and New York Giants before being eligible to play in Week 15 against the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 17.

Without Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys' offense faces new challenge - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys will turn to their trio of running backs and their acclaimed offensive line to keep the ground game churning.

The Cowboys have expressed faith in Elliott's replacements: Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith. But none can do what Elliott can. The Cowboys hope three of them can combine to replace Elliott's production.

"The way we've constructed our roster has taken his situation into account. We have some veteran running backs," coach Jason Garrett said. "We have some depth at that position. It's not like we're just living this day and we don't think about the future at all. You have to do that. I think you build your team that way at all positions. If this guy is not able to play, who's your backup? Who can go in? We try to do that with our offensive line, receivers, running backs, all throughout our defense. That's the way you construct your team, and you're always thinking about those scenarios. We'll take it one day at a time and we'll see what his situation is. Regardless, we're going to go forward and try to play our best football."

What Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, other RBs can do for Cowboys in Ezekiel Elliott's absence - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota points out that defenses may play the Cowboys differently without Elliott, and that the short-yardage runs may become more difficult.

Now tasked with carrying the load on a team built around running the football are veterans Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden and third-year back Rod Smith.

Morris, McFadden and Smith won't command the attention that Elliott did as a group. Instead of stacking the box on most first and second downs, opposing defenses could look to put extra attention on Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley or Jason Witten in the passing game, making things more difficult on Dak Prescott.

Another area Elliott's absence could impact the Cowboys dramatically is in fourth-and-1 or goal-line situations. The Cowboys are a perfect 6 for 6 when going for it on fourth-and-1 this season, tops in the NFL.

6 Days to Sunday: McFadden Enters The Picture - Nick Eatman, Dallas Cowboys
Eatman wonders which of the three remaining running backs will be the starter.

When the news broke Monday evening of Elliott’s six-game suspension, the focus immediately shifts to the backups, and more specifically Darren McFadden. The former No. 4 overall pick back in 2008 with the Raiders, McFadden has been inactive all season. The Cowboys have made it clear that both McFadden and Alfred Morris have stayed on the roster all season mainly for this scenario. McFadden finished fourth in the NFL in rushing back in 2015, totaling 1,089 yards despite starting just 10 games. If Elliott indeed misses this game, it’s unclear if McFadden would jump Morris in the starting role, or split backup reps with Rod Smith. But the Cowboys will definitely utilize his experience and fresh legs if Elliott isn’t available.

Deshaun Watson-Russell Wilson duel leads NFL Week 8 - SI.com, Peter King
The Elliott suspension may be tied to a Jerry Jones-led effort to oust Roger Goodell as NFL commissioner.

Jones is angry at Goodell for suspending the Cowboys’ star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, for six games, which Elliott has fought and won so far; but if he loses another appeal this week, Elliott could miss Dallas’s next six games. Further, it is believed that Jones feels Goodell is too iron-fisted with player suspensions. Until recently, Jones was a steadfast backer of Goodell. But the suspensions have made him increasingly angry. He also cannot fathom how Goodell won’t put his foot down and force players to stand for the anthem. If players don’t stand, Jones is said to think, then so be it—they shouldn’t play.

“Jerry [Jones] is on a mission,” said this ownership source. “I’ve been in the league a long time, and this is as passionate and vocal as I’ve seen him on anything. He wants players to stand, and he obviously wants to do something on Roger’s contract.”


How the Cowboys special teams turned the Redskins game at the perfect moment - SportsDay, Bob Sturm
We will never know how the game would turn out if the field goal wasn't blocked. The Washington Redskins were rolling along pretty well on offense...

Regardless, the Cowboys needed two road wins in two weeks and they put both away in convincing fashion. They took a 2-3 start that disappointed and turned it into a 4-3 spot going to November. That start may have cost them the division, but they have their full health, are 2-0 in the NFC East and have a chance to play the Eagles twice moving forward.

Questions for the Cowboys are still to be answered. The Chiefs, Falcons and Eagles in succession will address plenty of the questions that the judge doesn't handle today.

Your guess is as good as mine on what happens next.

Instant Analysis: Cowboys slapped lipstick on a pig in 33-19 win - Cowboys Wire, Zeke Barrera
It was far from the most well-played game, but the Cowboys got it done against a division rival to move to 4-3 on the 2017 season.

It’s not always pretty, but a Cowboys victory over the Washington Redskins always feels sweet. The rain that poured in FedEx Field certainly complicated things for both teams, but at times it seemed like both teams were trying to out-ugly each other. It was Dallas however, who ultimately came out on top, winning back-to-back games for the first time this year and moving to 2-0 within the division.

How David Irving Earned Starring Role In Cowboys Defense - Fanrag Sports, John Owning
Owning breaks down how David Irving has been successful since returning from a 4-game suspension.

Here’s another example of Dallas’s dynamic duo working well together on stunts:

On this play, the Cowboys are again running a T/E stunt with Irving as the penetrator and Lawrence as the looper. This time, however, the right guard is focused on Irving for too long, giving Lawrence a clear rush lane to the quarterback. Kirk Cousins does a phenomenal job of avoiding the initial pressure from Lawrence but ends up in Irving’s grasp.

With Irving and Lawrence playing at such a high level, they are both garnering a ton of attention from opposing offensive lines, which Dallas uses to its advantage on stunts. Opposing offensive linemen are so focused on blocking the Cowboys’ duo one-on-one that they are slow to pass off the stunts and shift their focus from one menacing defender to another.

Scout's Notebook: Breaking Down The Line Play; Wins For The Pass Rush - Dallas Cowboys, Bryan Broaddus
Broaddus likes what he saw from the defensive line on the blocked punt.

What an effort by Tyrone Crawford to block that Redskins field goal attempt in order to turn the game in favor of his team. There were two things interesting about that play. Crawford nearly blocked the Redskins’ first field goal attempt with a similar rush, going between Matt Ioanndis and T.J. Clemmings. Crawford was able to adjust the angle of his rush and the way he went up to go get the ball resulted in the block. Give the unit credit, as well, for switching their wall from the right side to the left once Orlando Scandrick reversed his field. There were a lot of big bodies hustling to get out front to get Scandrick down the sideline.

Sean's Scout: Zeke's Big Day, Defensive Line Dominance Carry Cowboys To Win - Inside the Star, Sean Martin

This was one of the most sound games I’ve ever seen CB Orlando Scandrick play, and to no surprise it led to good things in the Cowboys’ secondary against a Redskins team that ended up having to pass the ball from behind. Scandrick’s highlight on the day was returning a blocked field goal that Tyrone Crawford got his hands on to set up a first and goal, but it was his toughness in coverage and skill to play both inside and out that made a huge difference. The Redskins throw a lot at opposing CBs with combination routes and plenty of speed on the outside, but Scandrick dealt with all of this by playing physical at the stem and trusting his coverage over the top when needed.


Inside Tony Romo's Journey to CBS - SI.com, Richard Deitch
Through 11 games, Tony Romo has remarkably become America's darling in the broadcast booth.

It is amazing to consider that Tony Romo has called just 11 NFL games for CBS Sports— six Sunday broadcasts and five Thursday Night Football games. As far as a professional sports broadcasting resume, Romo’s is minuscule compared to most in his position. Yet if you asked the average NFL fan for a list of the best pro football television analysts, I’d bet Romo would already rank near the top, if not at the top of the list.

Pass rush, sacks give team new outlook - Fort Worth Star-Telegram - Drew Davison
The Dallas Cowboys have had a lackluster pass rush in recent years. They haven’t had a 40-sack season since 2011, but they’re on pace for 57 sacks this season.

The proof is in the numbers.

The Cowboys had 14 sacks in seven games and didn’t get their 25th sack until Week 14 at New York last season. They finished with a respectable 36 for the season, but are on pace to better that by 20 this season.

The Cowboys had 42 sacks in 2011. They had 36 sacks last season, 31 in 2015, 28 in 2014, 34 in 2013 and 34 again in 2012.

No team reached the 50-sack mark — like the Cowboys are on pace for — last season.

Nobody saw this sort of production coming from a team deprived of a consistent pass rush in recent years.