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Cowboys news: Ezekiel Elliott on brink of great year according to head coach Mike McCarthy

Plus other news from around the team.

NFL: JUN 02 Dallas Cowboys OTA Offseason Workouts Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mike McCarthy: Ezekiel Elliott has definitely set himself up for his best season - Josh Alper, PFT

Strong endorsement for Zeke from the head coach heading into training camp.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s last two seasons have been underwhelming, but the offseason is a time for optimism and there’s been no shortage of it coming from the Cowboys.

Quarterback Dak Prescott said last month that he expects a healthy Elliott to turn in his best NFL season. Head coach Mike McCarthy was asked about Prescott’s comment on Thursday and said he shared Prescott’s belief that Elliott is on track to rebound this year.

“I think the biggest thing with Zeke is he’s completely healthy now and he’s had a tremendous offseason,” McCarthy said, via Mark Lane of WFAA. “The weight that he has been pushing in the weight room, just the numbers that he’s been cranking out have been very, very impressive. I can’t tell you it’s been the best of his career, but he’s in top shape. At the end of the day, he’s an extremely instinctive, tough, smart football player, great teammate. So, I think he’s definitely set himself up for that.”

Elliott’s contract runs through the 2026 season, but there’s no more guaranteed money on the deal after this year and he will likely need to have at least one of the best years of his career in order for the Cowboys to keep him around at a $10.9 million salary and $16.72 million cap hit next season.

6 Cowboys players make CBS Sports analyst’s Top 100 players list - Lauren Barash, The Landry Hat

Even though the offseason has been an interesting one for the Cowboys, there is no doubt that there is still talent on this roster.

Dallas Cowboys football is less than three months away and all of the analysts and insiders around the league are doing their best to figure out who the breakout stars and top players will be in 2022.

The most recent analyst to take a crack at ranking players in the NFL was CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco. He put together a list of the top 100 players heading into next season. The Cowboys were in a three-way tie (49ers and Bucs) for the second-most amount of players on the list with six. The Los Angeles Chargers lead the league with nine. Although the Rams only had five on the list, it’s worth noting that three of their players landed in the top 10, including Aaron Donald as the No. 1 player.

Making lists like this certainly isn’t easy, especially when you are taking all 32 teams into account. But let’s see where Prisco had the six Cowboys on his list:

Micah Parsons: No. 14

Zack Martin: No. 16

Tyron Smith: No. 46

Dak Prescott: No. 50

CeeDee Lamb: No. 57

Trevon Diggs: No. 84

Expectations are high for new Cowboys WR1 CeeDee Lamb - Ben Dackiw, Sooners Wire

As CeeDee Lamb enters his third season a lot of eyes and expectations are on the young receiver.

There are three players I’ve watched during my time at the University of Oklahoma who made me think to myself “these guys are so much better than everyone else on the field.”

Those three players are Kyler Murray, Caleb Williams and CeeDee Lamb.

Murray is in Arizona, Williams left for USC and Lamb is now the unopposed WR1 for America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys.

Since being drafted, the expectations have been high for Lamb. Jerry Jones himself gifted Lamb the fabled 88, a symbol of honor among Cowboys wide receivers.

Here we are two years into Lamb’s career, and the man is a star in the making. He’s coming off his first 1,000-yard season and a Pro Bowl. With Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson leaving in the offseason, Lamb is about to get a lot more targets.

To me, Lamb always looked like a leaner Dez Bryant, even during his days at OU. He can burn you deep, and he can also go up and get 50/50 balls in the end zone.

QBs always play better with a bonafide WR1, and Dak Prescott is no exeption.

Before trading for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys were 3-4 in the 2018 season.

Since then, Prescott has cemented himself as a franchise QB. Prescott has better numbers pretty much everywhere with Cooper on the field. Here are some stats, courtesy of SB Nation’s Blogging The Boys writer Aidan Davis.

‘We crossed the finish line’: McCarthy explains ending Cowboys minicamp early - Todd Brock, Cowboys Wire

Coach McCarthy seen all he needed to see in order to put an end to the Cowboys offseason work.

No one would argue that the Cowboys are ready to line up for their Week 1 date with Tampa Bay just yet. They were never going to be, not in mid-June.

But the team got far enough along in their preliminary work that the coaching staff saw fit to scrap the rest of mandatory minicamp after just one actual practice. Wednesday’s session was canceled in lieu of a team-building fun event at a nearby Topgolf, and Thursday’s practice was nixed shortly thereafter.

“I think the biggest thing is you have a starting line and a finish line,” McCarthy said in explaining the early dismissal, “and I just felt like we crossed the finish line, particularly with the veterans.”

That starting line McCarthy speaks of was crossed weeks ago. The Cowboys saw almost full participation from players during the voluntary portion of the offseason, which allowed coaches to get through seven of the eight scheduled “installs” before the team’s first mandatory session even began on Tuesday.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our young players,” McCarthy said, “but just to compliment the coaching staff, that’s really what I echoed in the last staff meeting, I thought they knocked it out of the park. I thought they hit a home run as far as maximizing their time with our players. Veterans, we had excellent participation in Phase 1 and, really, the captain workouts, Phase One, and all the way through, so we were able to go through all the concepts with the vets, and then the vets also got all eight installs. I think we clearly crossed the finish line of what we were trying to get done this year.”

So it came down to one final weightlifting workout for the rookies on Thursday morning, and a last media briefing from head coach Mike McCarthy, and a five-week break was suddenly underway.

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