Ezekiel Elliott took the NFL by storm in 2016 by leading the league in rushing with 1,631 yards. He continued the next season by leading the league in rushing yards per game, another rushing title in 2018, and finished fourth in yards/touchdowns, second in all-purpose yards, and first in 100-yard games in 2019.
That’s quite the amazing start to a career, but last season was a lot different. Although he was without Dak Prescott for 11 games and his offensive line was in shambles, you still expect a player of Elliott’s caliber to play well. Unfortunately, he had career lows in rushing yards (979) and yards per rush (4.0) and tied a career-low with six rushing touchdowns.
Now, the former fourth overall pick is focused on regaining his stature in the NFL.
“Just having the year I had last year, you don’t need more motivation than that,” Elliott said Thursday. “I just know the type of player I am. I don’t think I showed that last year. I got a lot to prove. I just made sure I didn’t leave any doubt out there that I didn’t do as much as I needed to do.”
Elliott worked diligently in the offseason with running backs guru Josh Hicks. The focus was to get Elliott’s quickness and agility to a level that would see him return to the guy that ran through the NFL in each of his first four seasons.
“I think it’s definitely something I needed to work on,” Elliott said. “It’s definitely something I needed to improve, so I went and got in the lab and got better.”
Hicks spoke with The Athletic earlier this month and praised the effort and dedication that Elliott has shown during their sessions together.
“I don’t think Zeke has ever worked like this in the offseason,” Hicks said. “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.”
— J.Hicks (@3hunnidGuru) May 5, 2021
— J.Hicks (@3hunnidGuru) June 15, 2021
One thing that’s been noticeable is how much leaner Elliott has looked this offseason. He’s down to 218 pounds, a weight he hasn’t been at since his freshman year at Ohio State. He credits his chef for his lean frame, which Elliott says he’s heard is important as you age in the NFL.
“I’ve heard as you get older in this league you want to start losing weight and nutrition has played a big part of that,” Elliott said. “Shoutout to my chef, Chef Hoppie, for getting me right and getting me lean and ready for the season. I feel good where I am.”
Although Ezekiel Elliott was ranked as the seventh-best running back by ESPN earlier this month, he feels his performance in 2020 was unsatisfactory and wants to show that’s not the player he is.
“Prove it to myself. I do it for my teammates,” Elliott said. “I think the hardest part about last year is you feel like you let your teammates down. That hurts. I want to make sure I put my best step forward and do everything I need to do to help this team win.”
Ezekiel Elliott has his offensive back healthy and coupled with the treat of Prescott and one of the NFL’s best aerial attacks, things are set up for the two-time rushing champ to have a redemption season in 2021.
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