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Cowboys News: NFL's “bizarre” handling of Ezekiel Elliott case under increasing scrutiny

Latest Cowboys headlines: Ezekiel Elliott possibly facing suspension; expectations for Jaylon Smith; a Cowboys-Raiders Super Bowl?

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NFL: 2016 NFL Draft Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Source: Ezekiel Elliott could be facing a one- or two-game suspension over domestic violence allegations - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
The conclusion to Ezekiel Elliott’s case is coming soon.

Sources are indicating that the league is likely to suspend Elliott for a short period.

Multiple sources close to the situation told Schefter that Elliott could face a one- or two-game suspension, but the league has denied that any decision on discipline has been made, and could not be made until its investigation is complete.

"The NFL is looking to pin something on him," one source familiar with the investigation said.

“Looking to pin something on him” is a strange way to phrase something if the source was from the NFL, so you can pretty much guess that source is from the Cowboys/Elliott camp

Ezekiel Elliott case continues to be a bizarre balancing act for the NFL - Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk
Florio provides a interesting take on the how the NFL is clumsily trying to balance conflicting business considerations while attempting to engage in an objective, dispassionate assessment of the facts.

On one hand, the league needs to placate [Jerry] Jones, who has more power than ever and who, we’re told, made it clear to the powers-that-be a year ago that he won’t be as gracious and compliant as Patriots owner Robert Kraft if a star player gets banned for something the boss thinks is bogus. On the other hand, the league needs to be cognizant of the potential P.R. consequences that would flow from a decision to give Elliott a pass — especially if his alleged victim files a lawsuit and eventually tells a compelling tale of domestic violence that the court of public opinion finds persuasive.

Whatever the league does, it needs to do it now. The internal appeals process needs to be resolved before Week One, so that the potential suspension doesn’t hover one week at a time over the 2017 season. A cynic would say that influential Giants co-owner John Mara is pushing for immediate resolution, so that his team won’t have to face Elliott in Week One. Right or wrong, the league’s bungling of other investigations invites skepticism and cynicism when it comes to this one.

So what happens with Elliott? It’s possible that Friday’s report from Adam Schefter of ESPN was the product not of an exasperated Elliott camp accepting the inevitable but a deliberate leak from the league office aimed at gauging public opinion (along with the possible wrath of Jerry) before making a final decision. Whatever the motivation, a decision must come ASAFP if the league hopes for its internal investigation process to preserve any credibility whatsoever.

Cowboys drama brings back memories of glory years - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Hill makes a tenuous connection between the 1990s Cowboys and this year's version, but also offers a take on Elliott.

There are those on the Cowboys who believe the league is trying offset its mishandling of past domestic violence issues by taking a fine-tooth comb to Elliott’s case.

And thus we have Friday’s report of sorts from ESPN that “there is a growing feeling that Elliott could face a short suspension.”

Per the NFL, no decision has been made on Elliott. Right now, it’s nothing more than gossip and rumor-mongering.

And anything regarding the Cowboys is prime clickbait.

NFL continues to investigate Zeke Elliott - Tim Owens,
Despite a year-long investigation, the NFL seems to make up its rules on the fly.

Schefter suggested that Elliott could be looking at a two-game suspension, forcing him out for Week One against the Giants and Week Two against the Broncos. It’s unclear why Elliott would be suspended only two games, as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said when he introduced the league’s domestic violence policy that a six-game suspension would be the standard for a first offense.

Bookmakers react to potential Ezekiel Elliott suspension, update Cowboys odds for season opener - OCC, Blogging The Boys
Ezekiel Elliott's potential suspension is already impacting the odds for the season opener, but perhaps not as much as many think.

If he is suspended for the regular season opener against the Giants, the spread would move from a current -5 to -4.5.

Elliott is worth about half a point to the odds. While the public perception is that the Dallas offense would be impacted greatly by the loss of Elliott, the dropoff in efficiency wouldn't be too great according to the oddsmakers.

Ezekiel Elliott Suspension Might Not Be a Bad Thing After His High-Usage Rookie Year - Jason McIntyre, The Big Lead
Rest is a good thing, McIntyre writes.

I actually don’t think [Elliott's suspension] would be the worst thing in the world for Dallas. I keep coming back to Tom Brady’s ‘vacation’ last year in New England, where he was suspended for the first four games of the season. He didn’t take any hits for a month, was completely fresh, and had an MVP-caliber season.

Dallas has the best offensive line in the league, and two capable backups in Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. Opening against the Giants (Dallas went 0-2 against them last year) and in Denver won’t be easy without Elliott, but it’ll be challenging with him, too.

VIDEO: Tale Of The Tape: Dak Prescott Dissects His Overtime TD Pass To Witten vs. Philly - Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys should win some kind of NFL Media award for their outstanding Tale of the Tape series, which concluded with Dak Prescott breaking down the game-winning touchdown vs the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8.

Charles Haley likens Dak Prescott to Joe Montana -
Charles Haley compared Cowboys standout sophomore Dak Prescott to an all-time great San Francisco quarterback, but not for the reason you might think.

"You know what? Dak reminds me of Joe [Montana]," Haley told Newy Scruggs of DFW's NBC 5. "He's funny. He's charismatic. They had something to prove. They had a chip on their shoulder."

Their paths might not be mirror images on the field at this point, but Haley sees a Joe Cool type of future for young Prescott, as long as he continues to build confidence and keep that mid-round chip on his shoulder.

"I tell him all the time, I say, 'Man, this is your show. This is your rodeo,'" Haley added. "I told him that after game [five] when he was saying it was Romo's show. I wanted to punch him in his chest. Hey, hold up. You've won four in a row. Then, you win five a row. Now walk out on the field before the game and say, 'Who's team is this?' If he didn't say, 'My team' real fast, I'll punch him again. 'My team.'

"He's got to realize he's got to control everybody. Whether Romo would have came back or not, it's about the confidence and believing that he was the man. That he was driving the bus. Then, that confidence will spill over and it did. When you listen to players talk they talk big about Dak, because he's a man of character and a man of strength and a man of conviction."

20 Questions: What Are Realistic Expectations For Jaylon Smith in 2017? - Dallas Cowboys Staff
The staff writers at the mothership – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – try to formulate realistic expectations for Jaylon Smith. Here's Eatman's take.

Eatman: I feel like every question this week has been somewhat difficult to answer and this one is no exception. I know the fans are eager to see him and everyone in the organization is the same way. We all want to see him healthy and just how good he can be. I have my doubts that we will be able to see him at 100 percent this year. That doesn’t mean we won’t see him at all. Just like any player coming off a knee injury, they’re not going to be as good in the first year back as they’ll be the following year. My expectations are that Smith will play at some point in the preseason and then will have a limited role early in the regular season. From there, we’ll have to see how it goes and he responds from playing football for the first time in two years. I hope he comes in and plays lights out. But I think they’ll be overly cautious with Smith to the point that he really won’t be turned loose until later in the season or even next year. But again, it’s progress. He might turn out to be a superstar. I just have a hard time thinking we’re going to see it sooner than later.

Cowboys' Jaylon Smith might be helped by working in a down at a time - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer wonders whether a reduced role for Jaylon Smith might be the best way to get him back to playing football.

Jaylon Smith's every move will be watched when training camp begins. It was like that during the few opportunities the media saw him practice in the spring. He looked fine, but nothing definitive was learned because the snaps were so few. Teammates raved about him. Coaches mentioned how hard he worked. Until he is on the field repeatedly in the summer, it’s difficult to get a grasp on what he can do. I wonder if he will be a two-down linebacker as he feels his way back from the knee injury and gets accustomed to the brace. By working him in slowly, the Cowboys will give him the best chance to succeed. The expectations for him already are high, perhaps too high considering the seriousness of his injury. Making him a two-down linebacker might be the best way to work him into the lineup.

Ice Cube wants to see a Cowboys-Raiders Super Bowl - Adam Grosbard, SportsDay
That would be a good day.

2017 NFL Preseason Divisional Power Rankings: The NFC East is the best - John Breech,
Wasn't long ago that people called the NFC East a dumpster fire, but that changed quickly.

1. NFC East

The NFC East feels like the strongest division from top to bottom going into the 2017 season. The Cowboys might not have a secondary, but that might not matter if they're averaging 47 points per game. The Giants might not have a run game, but who cares when you can throw the ball to Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard instead. As for Kirk Cousins, the Redskins might not be sold on him, but I am. With Cousins under center the past two years, the Redskins put together their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1996-97.

As for the Eagles, no one is going to remember Carson Wentz's late-season regression if he gets off to a hot start in 2017, and there's a good chance that's going to happen now that the Eagles have added Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and LeGarrette Blount to Wentz's offensive artillery.

The NFC East feels like the one division where any team could win it and then end up in the Super Bowl.

Who will win the NFC East, and how many teams will make the playoffs? - NFC East- ESPN
The NFC East hasn't had a team successfully defend its division title in nearly 15 years. Can the Cowboys buck that trend? Tim McManus, Philadelphia Eagles ESPN reporter thinks so.

The Cowboys remain the team to beat, despite significant turnover on defense. There are some legit questions facing them, such as how they’ll generate a consistent pass rush, if their corners are good enough and whether quarterback Dak Prescott will experience a sophomore slump. But the Cowboys' identity as a dominant, run-based offense remains intact, and that provides endless benefits. So long as they have a top-shelf offensive line paving the way for star back Ezekiel Elliott, they’re going to be tough to stop. The NFC East should be highly competitive and highly entertaining this season (just ask Josh Norman). All four teams have a legit shot to make the postseason. That level of parity makes the division a little tough to predict, but we’ll say two teams -- the Cowboys and the Giants -- end up in the playoffs.

NFL team offensive line rankings: Cowboys still NFL's best - Nate Davis, USA TOday
Dallas is still the No.1 ranked O-line, followed by the Titans, Raiders, and the Eagles (?!).

1. Dallas Cowboys: When a greenhorn backfield brings home a rookie of the year award along with a rushing title, the "supporting cast" must be special. QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott readily admit their 2016 success was enabled by a front regarded as the NFL's best for several seasons. Any unit featuring three all-pros (LT Tyron Smith, RG Zack Martin, C Travis Frederick) is, by definition, elite. But Dallas' hold on the top spot appears tenuous after LG Ron Leary left in free agency, and RT Doug Free retired. La'El Collins struggled inside last year and must prove he can be an NFL tackle, while new LG Chaz Green has played sparingly.

Internal disagreement in Washington on value of Kirk Cousins - Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk
What a mess in Washington.

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