OXNARD, California — Ezekiel Elliott does not need to look far for motivation. He is coming off the worst statistical year of his career with the Dallas Cowboys, rushing for just 979 yards in 15 games.
“Just having the year I had last year, you don’t need more motivation than that,” Elliott said after the Cowboys’ first training camp practice. “I just know the type of player I am. I don’t think I showed that last year. I got a lot to prove. I just made sure I didn’t leave any doubt out there that I didn’t do as much as I needed to do.”
In addition to the work in the Cowboys’ offseason program, Elliott trained with a personal running backs coach, Josh Hicks, for the first time in his career. The goal was to improve his short-area quickness that will help him get more than just the two carries of 20 yards or more he had in 2020. He had just two games with more than 100 yards rushing, topping out at 105. He had 26 100-yard games in his first four seasons.
“I think it’s definitely something I needed to work on,” Elliott said. “It’s definitely something I needed to improve, so I went and got in the lab and got better.”
He improved his nutrition with his personal chef that helped get him down to 218 pounds, 10 pounds lighter than he was listed at last year. He was a freshman at Ohio State the last time he was 218 pounds.
“I’ve heard as you get older in this league you want to start losing weight and nutrition has played a big part of that,” Elliott said. “Shoutout to my chef, Chef Hoppie, for getting me right and getting me lean and ready for the season. I feel good where I am.”
Elliott signed a six-year, $90 million extension in 2019 that guaranteed him $50 million. He is set to make $9.6 million this year and his $12.4 million base salary in 2022 is already fully guaranteed.
His goal is not to prove doubters wrong.
“Prove it to myself. I do it for my teammates. I think the hardest part about last year is you feel like you let your teammates down. That hurts,” said Elliott, who also fumbled six times in 2020. “I want to make sure I put my best step forward and do everything I need to do to help this team win.”
Elliott celebrated his 26th birthday Thursday. Dak Prescott gave him a diamond bracelet as a present. The fans in attendance for practice sang, “Happy birthday.”
“It goes by fast. You hear it all the time (but) until you get to year six you don’t realize it,” Elliott said. “It goes in a flash of an eye. I have had a great time. Doing it with great people. I look forward to being here a lotta more years.”