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Who Will Step Up In Ezekiel Elliott’s Absence?

It’s been less than a week since news came of Ezekiel Elliott‘s six game suspension handed down by the NFL for alleged domestic violence As Cowboys fans try wrap their heads around what this means for the season, the coaching staff is focusing their attention on who will step up in the wake of Zeke’s absence. Truth is, I think it’s going to be a collaborative effort between Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, and Rod Smith.

McFadden will most likely fill in most during the time Zeke is suspended. The ten year veteran missed most of last season from a non-football related elbow injury. During the 2015 season however, he had over 1000 rushing yards which ranked fourth in the league. The last time he faced off against the Giants in 2015, he got 152 yards and a TD on 29 attempts. Let’s hope he can repeat that on opening day September 10th.

Five year veteran Alfred Morris filled in as backup running back last season when McFadden was injured. During the first three years with Washington, he accrued over 1000 yards and was selected to the pro-bowl twice. One potential drawback is that Morris doesn’t have experience with special teams, as the Cowboys prefer their players to have versitility in playing different positions. Whether or not this will influence him filling in the running back position is yet to be determined.

A stand out star during this year’s training camp has been Rod Smith, Jaylon Smith‘s older brother. Smith was picked up by the Seattle Seahawks as an un-drafted free agent in 2015, played one game and was subsequently released. The Dallas Cowboys picked him up that season and switched him to fullback but his predominant role was on special teams. This season, he was moved to running back which is what he played during all four years at Ohio State. Despite the fact doesn’t have a lot of professional starts, Rod has picked it up during training camp. During the Hall of Fame Game he led rushing yards with 64 yards on 18 carries.

If Smith continues to impress during the preseason, he could surpass Morris as backup to McFadden due to his experience playing special teams.

It should also be noted that six year veteran running back Ronnie Hillman was signed back in July. He’s a smaller back and was signed in hopes of replacing Lance Dunbar who signed with the Los Angeles Rams. Although he may help during 3rd down plays, he’s not expected to be a solution to Zeke’s absence.

Staff writer covering the Dallas Cowboys | I grew up in Dallas and played HS and club soccer. I'm an avid sports fan and can remember going to Super Bowl parties with my parents in the 90s. That's when my love for the Cowboys began. I also happen to share a birthday with Mr. Aikman himself! I have my Master's in Nurse Anesthesia and work locally in the DFW area. I'm passionate about music, art, sports, traveling and my french bulldog, Zoey. I still play soccer and like to stay active.

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