In what has become a trend among good young running backs in recent years, Cowboys star RB Ezekiel Elliott held out for a contract extension and missed all of training camp and preseason. Luckily, in the week leading up to the start of the regular season. That’s because Elliott and the team agreed to a whopping six-year, $90 million extension.
That means he’ll play for the Cowboys this season, but he wasn’t with the team at all during training camp. So the question becomes is Elliott in game shape and will he be ready to hit the ground running? The answer to those questions should be “yes” because a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee has been helping him stay in shape.
Marshall Faulk helps Ezekiel Elliott train
While holding out for a contract extension, Ezekiel Elliott was spending a lot of time south of the border in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. While most people who go there do so to get some rest and relaxation, Elliott was looking to do more than that — he was training and staying shape so that he would be able to live up to expectations when he eventually signed his new deal and takes the field with the Cowboys.
Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk traveled to Mexico to help ensure Elliott would be game-ready upon the start of the season. Faulk, a seven-time Pro Bowler during his NFL career, has served as a mentor to Elliott for a long time. Thus, he was a natural choice to ask to help the defending rushing champ train while away from his team.
The Marshall Faulk-Ezekiel Elliott training plan
Shortly after arriving at the Mexican resort where Ezekiel Elliott was staying, Faulk promised reporters that he’s “going to push him.” Faulk said that he was going to put the former first-round pick through some football stuff, including “some two-minute stuff, some four-minute stuff, to see if he’s ready for football.”
Being ready for football is Elliott’s top priority, as he will be thrown right into the fire now that he got his contract extension. While training with Elliott, Faulk had a boot-camp mentality and had him wear a helmet, pads, and heart monitor during workouts.
Faulk has the fourth-most yards from scrimmage in league history so, as he says, he “know[s] what it takes to play a whole game at running back … the stamina it takes in order to do the stuff to win.”
Marshall Faulk knows about holding out
While holdouts have become increasingly common of late with tens of millions of dollars up for grabs, players have been holding out for years — including Faulk, who had a contract dispute of his own in 1999.
After the Colts traded him to the Rams, Faulk missed the first 12 days of training camp in a holdout situation. Eventually getting the new contract he wanted, Faulk went on to put up a career-best 2,429 yards from scrimmage and helped the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV as part of the offense that became known as “The Greatest Show on Turf.”
When asked what he needs to share with Ezekiel Elliott about his holdout experience, Fault said “nothing,” but he understands the importance of helping Elliott train to try to avoid injury during the season. Faulk says “the worst thing that can happen is to return and not be in football shape” when it’s time to play the games.
“A special young man”
Faulk realizes how important the situation is for Ezekiel Elliott, who he says is “a special young man,” and he also believes that the Cowboys know that and that they’re “taking the liberty of setting the market” when it comes to a contract for a running back who is entering his fourth season in the NFL and has led the league in rushing in two of his first three seasons.
Getting a deal done with Elliott before the start of the season was critical for the Cowboys because he is a critical piece of the offense, along with QB Dak Prescott, who will be up for a new contract himself sooner than later.