FRISCO, Texas (AP) Ezekiel Elliott skipped his weekly media session Wednesday because of more legal limbo in the star Dallas Cowboys running back’s fight over the NFL’s six-game suspension on alleged domestic violence.
The difference this week is that Elliott, the NFL’s second-leading rusher, was with his teammates. That wasn’t the case early last week when the 22-year-old was suspended until Friday after a judge rejected his request for a second injunction.
The third legal reprieve came in an emergency stay two days before the Cowboys beat the Kansas City Chiefs. Now Elliott seeks a longer-lasting injunction from a three-judge panel that will hear his case Thursday in New York.
A ruling could come before Sunday, when Dallas (5-3), on a three-game winning streak with significant contributions from Elliott, visits defending NFC champion Atlanta (4-4).
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said on his radio show Wednesday he believed Elliott was planning to attend the hearing. If so, it will be with the blessing of coach Jason Garrett.
Elliott attended the hearing in New York last week after which U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla rejected all the arguments of his legal team in reinstating the suspension levied by Commissioner Roger Goodell in August.
The suspension followed the NFL’s yearlong investigation after prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio, cited conflicting evidence when declining to pursue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State. The allegations stemmed from incidents in the summer of 2016.
”Again, we’re going to focus on what we can control in that situation,” Garrett said earlier this week. ”Zeke has done a really good job of that. Until someone tells us otherwise, we’ll proceed accordingly.”
Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing as a rookie last season, has been suspended briefly twice as the case has taken twists and turns in courtrooms from Texas to Louisiana to New York. He missed a day at the facility in mid-October, and three more last week.
The saga hasn’t affected Elliott on the field lately. He had three straight 100-yard games, the latter pair starting a two-game winning streak. In a 28-17 win against the Chiefs on Sunday, he scored the go-ahead touchdown in the second half and finished with 93 yards.
Over the past month, Elliott has climbed the NFL rushing chart and now trails this year’s dynamic rookie, Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt, by 7 yards. Elliott has 793 yards and is tied with Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams for the league lead in touchdowns rushing with seven.
”I’ve continued to say, we’re going to run our offense regardless of who’s in,” said quarterback Dak Prescott, who shared a remarkable debut season with Elliott and was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
”I’m sure if the quarterback changes we’re going to run the exact same offense that we run. So for the most part it’s about coming in and controlling the things that we can control, giving a great effort and just studying the game plan for any running back or any receiver, being ready to go for Sunday.”
If Elliott loses the latest ruling, his legal options are likely to be near an end. He would miss all but the last two games of the regular season, just as the Cowboys were emerging as a playoff contender a year after the surprising rookie duo carried them to the top seed in the NFC at 13-3.
”It’s just doing whatever I can to get the best out of these other guys,” Prescott said. ”For the situation with Zeke, it’s exactly that. I’m going to do the best I can to get the most out of him when he’s here and make sure he’s in a good place and (has) a good attitude when he’s not.”
NOTES: The Cowboys placed DT Brian Price on injured reserve following a knee injury against the Chiefs and activated undrafted free agent Lewis Neal from the practice squad. The former LSU standout is a strong candidate to make the game-day roster in his first week. … The Cowboys signed former Maryland DT Joe Vellano to the practice squad.
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