First, Ezekiel Elliott and the NFLPA lost the emergency stay motion, clearing the way for his suspension to begin. Then, the court set the date for the next appeal which is December 1st. That will be four games into the current suspension, meaning Elliott will miss at minimum the Falcons, Eagles, Chargers and Redskins. That’s two NFC East games along with an NFC opponent who is battling for a playoff spot. That’s a tough stretch to lose Zeke to, but that’s where the Cowboys find themselves.
2nd Circuit sets hearing for Elliott's expedited appeal for Dec. 1. Would still be a fast process for whole thing to be completed within the 6 weeks.— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) November 9, 2017
This is four games into the suspension. And remember, Elliott just lost in this court, so it's not promising that he would win the appeal regarding denial of preliminary injunction. https://t.co/p0N5pl5onx— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) November 9, 2017
In the meantime, the Cowboys have some football games to play. And they will be playing to win. Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden will be charged with filling Zeke’s absence. While all will be motivated by wanting to play, and to win, one of them should have just a little bit more to drive him.
Let’s talk about the other two, first. Darren McFadden may just have one of those late-career miracle runs left in him. He’s talented, he’s fresh after basically not playing for the last two years, and he only would have to stay healthy for six games. Staying healthy has always been a problem. Maybe he has a killer stretch of games left in him. Or maybe Rod Smith proves that he is a workhorse back who can move the chains and should be considered for a larger role in the future. Maybe this is his moment to bloom.
But I would contend the guy who really wants to excel, and beyond just pure competitiveness, is Alfred Morris. He’s playing for the Cowboys, for his reputation, and for money.
Morris came into the league a sixth-round draft pick. His first contract wasn’t for a lot of money, at least by NFL standards. Yet he put up the numbers of a much higher draft pick. For three years he was a 1,000 yard runner. Went to two Pro Bowls. Then 2015 happened and he “only” gained 751 yards. That’s when he was let go from Washington, signed in Dallas, likely with the idea he would play himself into being a co-lead back with McFadden. Then Zeke happened, and Morris was now a card-carrying rider of the pine. His carries dwindled to nothing.
He’s 28-years-old, three of the four years he’s started in the league he’s over 1,000 yards, is almost always healthy, still has tread on the tires after sitting for basically two years... this is his shot to resurrect his career. If he steps in for Zeke over six games and puts up numbers, and the Cowboys win, his reputation around the league will soar. He may be able to parlay that into a decent offseason contract and one more shot at being at least a co-starter somewhere. A chance to close out his career doing more than backing up guys like Zeke.
The nice thing is he deserves it. The guy never complains. Never causes problems. Always practices and plays when called upon. Didn’t complain when he went from potential playing time to very little once Zeke was drafted. A guy who never really got to cash in on the second NFL contract, the one where NFL players get paid.
Zeke may be out, but Alfred Morris now gets a chance. Here’s hoping it really pays off for him... and the Cowboys.