CLEVELAND -- The Dallas Cowboys lost their long-tenured starting quarterback Tony Romo to a broken back in the third week of the preseason, but while he was healing up, “America’s Team” found success with a rookie in Dak Prescott.
Coupled with fellow first-year standout running back Ezekiel Elliott, Prescott has been protected by a stalwart offensive line and has the Cowboys off to a 6-1 start and the best record not only in the East Division, but the entire NFC heading into today’s game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“You have to expect that,” Browns cornerback Tramon Williams said of having to cover a little longer while the front seven pressures Prescott.
“You definitely have to expect that. You are not naïve. You watch the film. You know how good those guys are, and there are going to be a handful of plays, if not more, that we are going to have to cover a lot longer. It is just the reality of any game. We are definitely preparing for that for those guys.”
Elliott has picked up in the National Football League where he left off at The Ohio State University back in January, running over, around and through defenders on his way up the field and into the end zone.
The 6-foot, 225-pound running back rushed for 3,961 yards and 43 touchdowns on 592 carries in his three years at Ohio State.
In seven starts, Elliott has turned 159 carries into 799 yards and five scores for a Cowboys team off to a 6-1 start and leading both the East Division and the National Football Conference despite having a first-year backfield with Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott.
After gaining just 134 yards in his first two games with the Cowboys, Elliott gained at least 134 yards over four straight contests. Following a bye week break, Elliott ran for 96 yards and turned a career-best four catches into 52 yards in a 29-23 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium last Sunday.
“He looks good man,” Williams said. “He is a talented young back, and like I said, just like the rest of the guys on their team, he can do it all -- can run the ball, can catch out of the backfield, and most importantly, in this game, you have to be able to block. He has been impressive at that area also.”
Having a running back like Elliott has allowed Dallas’ other playmakers to be effective against opposing defenses.
Prescott has completed 144 of his 221 attempts for 1,773 yards and nine touchdowns against two interceptions, and the pocket has been kept clean by a talented offensive line that has surrendered only 11 sacks in seven games.
Wide receiver Cole Beasley leads the Cowboys with 37 catches for 443 yards and three touchdowns, while tight end Jason Witten and wide out Dez Bryant have combined for 553 yards and three scores on 45 receptions.
“Anytime he is on the field, he is going to draw attention, regardless if he is healthy or not, but he definitely looks good,” Williams said of Bryant. “As long as he is out there man, he is a freak of nature, so him being 85 percent will be better than a lot of guys that are at 100 percent. We are definitely going to plan for all their guys. They have a really talented team.”