The Dallas Cowboys are getting some pretty big pieces of their offense back for 2021. The most obvious big-name returnee is quarterback Dak Prescott, who is working his way back from injury after signing a massive contract to run the Dallas offense for the next four years. He’ll be getting back his protectors on the line with Tyron Smith and La’el Collins slated for return to the offensive tackles position. Others like Zack Martin and Blake Jarwin will be shaking off injury in a bid to help this offense along.
But one player who did play last year is trying for his own rebound, but not from injury. As has been noted often, Ezekiel Elliott’s production has been in decline and he just didn’t look like the same Zeke last year. It’s one thing for outsiders to observe this, but quite another when someone in Zeke’s inner-ring of confidantes says it. But that’s just what his personal trainer, Josh Hicks, recently stated.
But Elliott had only three runs of 20 or more yards last season, raising questions about whether he has lost a step. That has driven the three-time Pro Bowler this offseason.
“Everybody said it,” [Josh] Hicks said, “and he probably saw it and felt it himself, that he probably slowed down a little bit or lost a step a little bit or whatever.”
It certainly seems like Zeke did recognize that things were headed in the wrong direction and he took the steps to correct it. He is working hard to regain his quick-step and cutting ability, and Hicks has already noticed a big improvement throughout his offseason workouts.
Josh Hicks, Elliott’s personal trainer, sent a text message to Elliott last week. It included a video of a drill Elliott did three months ago and another one of the same drill recently. Hicks said Elliott was “way quicker, way more elusive, more fluent” in the recent video.
“Zeke’s in good shape,” Hicks told Jon Machota of TheAthletic.com. “I agree with Dak. I agree with Tony [Pollard]. I was on the outside looking in. They’ve been with this man three, four years. They see him way more than I see him. They’ve seen him work in practice, and they’ve seen him work in the offseason.
Hicks is pretty blunt in his assessment that Zeke is working harder than he ever has in an offseason to recapture his form.
“I don’t think Zeke has ever worked like this in the offseason. I could be mistaken. But me, personally, when it comes to my drills and what I do and how I do it, I know he hasn’t worked like this.”
This is a passing league, and the Cowboys are going to lean on their trio of Grade A receivers for a lot of the offense. But having Elliott being the threat he used to be will open things up dramatically for all facets of the offense.
Whatever happens to Zeke’s game this season, it won’t be from a lack of effort in the offseason. He is doing everything he can to reclaim his status as a top back in the NFL.