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Cowboys changing offensive hand signals due to Patriots’ additions of Ezekiel Elliott, Will Grier

Elliott and Grier spent the last two seasons together in Dallas.

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

As the Dallas Cowboys get set to host the New England Patriots this week, their game plan apparently will be impacted by two of New England’s recent signings.

Meeting with the media Monday morning, Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer told reporters the team will alter their hand signals for Sunday’s game. The reason? Due to former Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott and Will Grier residing on the Patriots’ roster.

“We’re always aware of it,” Schottenheimer explained. “Those are things that we monitor every week, but certainly Will knows where a lot of the bones are buried. Zeke obviously does as well.”

After being drafted by the team in 2016, Elliott had been one of the longest tenured Cowboys before being released last March.

As for Grier, the quarterback was on the Cowboys roster for the last two-plus years before being waived at the end of this year’s roster cuts on August 29. He then quickly latched on with the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad before being signed to the Patriots active roster last week.

The experience and knowledge of Dallas’ offensive system that both players have is the catalyst for the Cowboys changing their signals.

“Those are the things you talk about, and you think about, ‘OK, let’s adjust this one,’ Schottenheimer added. “We certainly have more than one hand signal for most of our core concepts, and sometimes you can use it to your advantage because they think they know what’s coming, and they hear something they think, ‘Oh, hey, it’s this’ and we’re smart enough to adjust those things.

“Again, everybody does it. You get a player that’s been somewhere, you bring him in, you talk to him about different things, and then you're very selective about how much you put into it. An so, again, excited to see Will. It’ll be great to see him, but I’m sure he's definitely being interrogated and probably spending a lot of late nights with their defensive coaching staff.”

When asked about the situation on Tuesday, Patriots offensive coordinator had a chuckle before downplaying the situation.

“Interrogating,” O’Brien said with a laugh. “Schotty’s a good guy, I’ve known Schotty for a long time. I think that’s the way it is every week in this league, every year in this league. There's going to be guys that come into your organization off of teams that you're about to play. It goes both ways, it’s always going to happen.

“At the end of the day, you got to study the film, everybody's got to be on the same page with what we’re doing. I’ve never thought in my years in the league that any of that was a real overriding factor in a win or a loss. It comes down to the players on the field and the coaches putting the players in the right positions to make plays, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

O’Brien also made sure to add that the Patriots were in fact not spending the week interrogating their new quarterback.

“I don’t think we’re trying to hold a light over anybody and [saying], ‘Tell me what you did on July 20th of 2023,’” he said. “We’re not doing that. We’re not interrogating anybody. We’re just trying to put together the best game plan we possibly can.”