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The Cowboys offense goes as Ezekiel Elliott and the running game goes.
In Dallas’ three losses this season, Elliott has run for just 116 yards on 30 carries. Such was the case in the 19-9 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday, when Elliott received just nine carries. Despite ranking sixth in the NFL in rushing with 695 yards, Elliott hasn’t rushed for more than 51 yards in his last four games.
With a Thanksgiving matchup against the Raiders (5-5) looming at 4:30 p.m. on CBS, Elliott knows the Cowboys (7-3) need to run the ball to win.
“I think running the football has to be important to us,” Elliott said on Tuesday. “I think it helps this offense. We’re a better football team when we can run it well. I think it will be point for us Thursday to get that run game going.”
Elliott himself admitted he hasn’t been 100 percent, aggravated by a knee injury the past few weeks. The injury flared up against Kansas City, causing Elliott to sit out a few possessions.
“It’s more temporary pain,” Elliott said. “It’s kinda like how you stub your toe, and you have to walk it off. That’s kinda what it’s like.”
The loss of offensive tackle Tyron Smith hasn’t helped matters either. The seven-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro has been out with a bone spur in his ankle since Week 8. Smith is arguably the most important piece of the offense, with the running game struggling without him leading the way.
Smith was a full participant in Tuesday’s practice and is on track to return on Thursday.
“Tyron, he’s a great O-lineman,” Elliott said. “I can’t say enough good stuff about him, his work ethic, how hard he goes. It will be good to have him back this Thursday.”
Though the Cowboys get Smith back, they will still be without receiver Amari Cooper and perhaps CeeDee Lamb as well. Cooper tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and missed the game against the Chiefs. Since he’s unvaccinated, he must isolate for at least 10 days, meaning he will be out on Thursday.
Lamb suffered a concussion in the second quarter on Sunday. He is still in concussion protocol.
Follow Nick Geddes on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes.