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Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott could play large role in return to Dallas

Elliott played seven seasons for the Cowboys.

New England Patriots (15) Vs. New York Jets (10) At MetLife Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The New England Patriots Week 4 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys will additionally serve a homecoming or sort for running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott, who Dallas drafted in 2016, spent the first seven years of his career with the Cowboys before signing with New England in August. While this will be his first time in Dallas in a new uniform, the running back is just focused on securing a victory.

“It’s cool going back to Dallas,” Elliott said on Wednesday. “Spent a lot of time there, have a lot of great times there. But, out there you got to keep the main thing the main thing and that’s going out there getting better as a team and going out there and getting another win.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones shared on Wednesday that the team will honor the former first-round pick in some capacity during his return. While Elliott is appreciative of everything the organization has done for him, his emotions will again be focused on the job at hand.

“I’m a try to keep it even keel,” he shared. “I think just in any moment in any game - no matter how big, how small - you got to keep your emotion [in check]. You can’t get too high, get too low, you got to stay neutral and realize you got one job to do.”

To get the job done and secure a victory, Elliott could be a key part of New England’s offensive plans on Sunday. Last weekend, the Arizona Cardinals gashed the Cowboys with the run game — posting a 59 percent success rate on the ground en route to 222 total rushing yards (7.4 average).

The Cardinals did so by relying heavily on misdirection and attacking Dallas’ defensive line with pulling lineman to get up the field.

Arizona also featured their fair share of 12 and 13 personnel usage, using extra tight ends on roughly 40 percent of their plays. That is familiar usage to New England, even dating back to their last matchup against Dallas in 2021 when they had two tight ends on the field for 39 percent of their offensive snaps.

With New England transitioning back to more of their similar gap scheme runs against the Jets on Sunday, Elliott posted his best performance of the season with 80 yards on 16 carries. After watching the Cardinals success in Week 3, a similar game plan could be in store for the Patriots on the ground.

“I think we got some momentum up front,” Elliott said of the Week 3 performance. “We’ve kind of had to shuffle some guys around the O-line - just kind of getting a group in there and getting the ball rolling. Not coming out and getting behind and being able to actually get more and more run attempts.”

With Elliott finding more success on the ground against New York, the Patriots leaned on him more late in the fourth quarter. As a bruising 220+ pound back, Elliott believes that is him time to shine.

“Honestly, it’s going to be tough to get good runs at the beginning of the game when everyone’s fresh,” he explained. “But, as you get run attempt after run attempt, you’re tiring down their defense and those three, fours [yard runs] are going to turn into five, sixes and bigger than that.”

Elliott, who has been with the Patriots for just six weeks, will hope to have plenty of more opportunities to pound the rock in late game situations as he continues to adjust to life with his new team.

“I’m definitely getting more acclimated,” he said. “Definitely more comfortable in the offense, so I’m just looking to build on that.”