Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott said he has “a lot to prove” in 2021 after struggling throughout last year.
“Just having the year I had last year, you don’t need more motivation than that. 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,” said Elliott, via Jon Machota of The Athletic.
Elliott feels like he let his teammates down based on his production last season and is focused on putting his best foot forward.
“I think the hardest part about last year is you kind of feel like you let your teammates down,” Elliott said. “That hurts. I want to make sure that I put my best step forward and do everything I need to do to help this team win.”
Elliott mentioned that he worked out with personal trainer Josh Hicks on his footwork and moving quicker.
“He definitely got me right this offseason,” Elliott said. “I thank him a lot just for working with me, making it fun and making me a better player.”
As for committing six fumbles last season, Elliott said “protecting the ball” is his prime focus in 2021.
“I’ve never been a fumbler,” Elliott said. “When you carry the ball, you kind of carry the whole hope of the whole team, the whole organization, the whole fan base. If you cough it up and give it to the other team, you’re letting everyone down, so I mean, I think that’s the No. 1 thing, that’s my focus this year, protecting the ball.”
- The Athletic’s Jon Machota noted that QB Dak Prescott, has shown no signs of ever having suffered his ankle injury.
- Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb has been Prescott’s favorite target, lining up all over the field and transitioning seamlessly between positions, per Machota.
- Machota notes that S Donovan Wilson and S Damontae Kazee would likely be the starters if the season started today, with S Jayron Kearse and S Darian Thompson rounding out the two-deep.
- Machota mentioned OL Connor Williams as the team’s preferred option for backup center.
- HC Mike McCarthy believes new DT Carlos Watkins “moves better than I expected. He has position flexibility. I think he can bounce all the way out to the 5-technique. I think that says a lot about him.” (Michael Gehlken)
Giants HC Joe Judge saw improvement in QB Daniel Jones this past season, despite what his critics feel may have been a year marred by regression.
“I kind of see it a little bit different,” he said, via SNY. “I saw a lot of obvious improvement as the year went on.”
Judge’s defense of Jones goes far beyond talent and potential, he believes what the QB put on tape last year was an obvious improvement.
“When we got ready to play that last game against Dallas and you turn on the tape and watch that first game against them (from Oct. 11), you’re like ‘Geez, we’ve come so far,’” Judge explained. “We’re far away from where we need to be and we’re not a finished product. However, that was the moment going into the last game of the regular season last year you could see it and say ‘OK.’ You could tangibly see a lot of improvement in how he handles every play.”
Judge’s review of Jones goes far beyond statistics. Only one thing matters to him, winning. He also noted gradual improvements in decision making, confidence, and other areas of the game that sometimes only coaches and players notice.
“I don’t measure any success by any kind of statistics,” Judge said. “To me the only stat that matters is wins and losses. He’s got to obviously touch the ball every play. He’s got to help the players around him by just doing his job. Look, I’m pleased at the rate he’s growing right now.”
Jones second half of the season was an improvement in the sense that he didn’t turn the ball over nearly as often, only throwing one interception in his final six games. He also lost two fumbles.
“You kind of cut the season in half and you look at our team and how we improved at not shooting ourselves in the foot,” Judge said. “You look at things like turnovers and the difference between the first eight games and the last eight games. I obviously saw a lot of improvement.”
- Judge mentioned the entire coaching staff is vaccinated. (Art Stapleton)
- Washington HC Ron Rivera vented about the team’s low vaccination rate: “I’m truly frustrated, I’m beyond frustrated. I’m immune deficient, and with this new variant, who knows.” (JP Finlay)
- Rivera added he doesn’t want to force anyone into a vaccination: “I think the big thing really is to have individual conversations. I’m not going to tell anyone what to do. … I hope we can get to these guys, to help them understand it’s not just to them, but also the folks around them.” (Nicki Jhabvala)
- Rivera mentioned he wants to have a pretty standard QB competition between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke: “We’ll make sure everyone gets reps. … This year, it’s going to be pretty much normal in terms of competition.” (Matthew Paras)
- The Washington Football Team worked out DL Bunmi Rotimi and DE Anree Saint-Amour. (Aaron Wilson)