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Cowboys’ Dak Prescott touches on one hidden Ezekiel Elliott strength

Cowboys, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott didn’t exactly put up big numbers in the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-29 season-opening loss to the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In a dramatic, back-and-forth game marked most by the aerial exploits of Dak Prescott and Tom Brady, Elliott never got going on the ground. He finished with 11 carries for 33 yards, hardly making up for it in the passing game with two catches for just six yards. Dallas expects more from the NFL’s two-time rushing leader than that lagging production suggests.

Don’t tell the Cowboys’ franchise quarterback that Elliott wasn’t instrumental to their team’s success on offense, though. As Prescott sees it, one of the only reasons Dallas matched points with Brady and the Buccaneers was Elliott’s often overlooked work as a pass blocker.

The tape doesn’t lie. Tampa Bay managed one sack and seven hits on Prescott over more than 60 drop-backs, numbers that indeed would’ve been higher if Elliott didn’t so willingly and aggressively stick his nose in as a blocker, a task he relishes.

“Every play I’m given a job. My job is to do my job to the best of its ability,” Elliott said Wednesday, per Matthew Lenix of The Star. “I take a lot of pride in being well-rounded. Blitz pickup is big for a running back. You have to keep the quarterback safe and untouched.”

Keeping Prescott relatively clean was a big reason why the Cowboys were able to keep pace with the Buccaneers until Ryan Succop’s last-second field goal sent Tampa to victory. Doing so will no doubt loom just as large in Sunday’s matchup against Joey Bosa and the Los Angeles Chargers.

Elliott will be up for the challenge.