FRISCO, TEXAS – Ezekiel Elliott was finishing the early stretching at the first practice since ending his long holdout with the Dallas Cowboys when the star running back was called to the front of the group.
Cheers rose from teammates Wednesday before Elliott led a brief set of jumping jacks to get the workout moving again.
The two-time NFL rushing champion is back with the Cowboys thanks to a new $90 million, six-year extension that makes Elliott the highest-paid player at his position — and just in time for the regular season. Dallas hosts the New York Giants on Sunday.
“It was really hard. Super hard,” Elliott said of an absence that was in its 41st day, covering all of training camp and the preseason, when the final breakthrough came before dawn the day of the most important practice so far leading to the opener for the defending NFC East champions.
Elliott said the support from teammates on display for reporters was the same thing he was getting behind the scenes since the Cowboys flew to California for camp without him July 25.
“Calls, texts,” Elliott said. “I mean, one of my teammates told me don’t come back without a deal. I mean, just support like that from this group of guys meant everything. It definitely would have been harder if things were the opposite.”
Elliott will get $50 million guaranteed. The $15 million-per-year average on the extension surpasses the $14.4 million Todd Gurley got from the Los Angeles Rams last summer. Gurley’s guarantee was $45 million.
The stalemate with the two-time Pro Bowler came with the Cowboys holding high expectations coming off their first playoff win with Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott. They have won two NFC East titles in three seasons together.
“Guys were just excited to see him,” center Travis Frederick said. “It was less about, ‘Thank God you’re here, thank God you got your deal done’ and more about, ‘Man, I’ve missed you. I haven’t seen you in a month.’ “
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