Sportress of Blogitude

Ezekiel Elliott eager to become team leader amid departures of Dez Bryant, Jason Witten

Ezekiel Elliott says it’s time for young players like himself to take on leadership roles on the Dallas Cowboys left empty due to the departures of veterans Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

Elliott, 22, on Wednesday made his first public comments on the leadership void left on the team with the release of Bryant and Witten’s retirement.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for the younger guys to step up and do their thing,” Elliott said during an appearance at the Cowboys’ Reliant Home Run Derby to benefit The Salvation Army, via SportsDay.

When asked what goals have been set for the 2018 NFL season, Elliott kept it simple.

“Just to come out and make a playoff run and hopefully win the Super Bowl,” Elliott said.

Elliott of course navigated an uneven 2017 campaign on the field and a tumultuous one off of it. Following a protracted legal process, Elliott ultimately served a six-game suspension, something that became a source of ire between Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell.

Elliott seemed to suffer through a bit of sophomore slump on the field as well last season. While sitting out six games of course caused his overall yardage numbers to suffer, Elliott also saw his yard-per-carry average drop a full yard from 5.1 to 4.1. And after averaging a touchdown per game in his rookie year (15), Elliott only scored seven TDs in 10 games in 2017.

All that said, there’s no reason to expect a motivated Elliott will not come out strong in 2018. In fact, Jones believes the lack of off-field drama and the inherent distractions caused by it will leave Elliott in a better position to perform as outstanding as he did during his First-Team All-Pro campaign in his rookie season.

And if Elliott should assume a larger leadership role at the same time? So much the better for the Cowboys.