NFC Notes: Ezekiel Elliott, Dee Ford, Washington QB Competition

Ezekiel Elliott

2020 was a bad year for Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, as he struggled through fumbles and set career-lows in a number of categories, including rushing yards. He’s attacking 2021 with a renewed focus, per his quarterback Dak Prescott, and is in terrific shape. 

“Zeke looks great,” Prescott said via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News. “He’s in the best shape of his life. Looking fast. Everybody’s seen the clips of him working out independently with his running back coach. His cuts, just how explosive he is. Excited to have a full year with him again and getting him healthy throughout the whole season.”

Being in shape hasn’t always been a given for Elliott, as fluctuations in that area have sometimes connected to fluctuations in his performance. But Dallas thinks they’re going to get peak Zeke in 2021. 

“When Zeke’s healthy and Zeke’s doing his thing, he’s the best running back in the league,” Prescott said. “It’s just exciting to see him in the best shape of his life, or best shape he’s been in the NFL. That’s going to be special for us moving forward.”

Dee Ford

49ers’ HC Kyle Shanahan is hoping that veteran DE Dee Ford can get past his injuries and contribute for San Francisco in 2021. A possibility still remains that Ford is unable to return and could be forced into retirement by his back issues.

“He’s been here since the beginning of February doing everything,” Shanahan said, via Pro Football Talk. “Had about three-and-a-half months here. And a week before everyone came back, he went back to Kansas City with his back specialist. He was going to come out here next week, but if he comes, there’s not going to be too many people here left again. But he made a lot of progress in the months that he was rehabbing here. We knew we weren’t going to put him through OTAs because we don’t want his back to act up. So I’m just keeping my fingers crossed and I’m hoping he can come ready to go in training camp and hopefully he can help us out this year.”

Washington QB Competition

Washington HC Ron Rivera believes that there will be strong quarterback competition this offseason with Ryan Fitzpatrick taking first-team reps and Taylor Heinicke splitting reps with Kyle Allen on the second team.

“It’s going to be a good competition,” Rivera said, via John Keim of “I look forward to it. It’s going to push our football team and make our football team better. I just feel that going into this knowing we have a proven guy there that has the ability to lead us, but again, we have a guy in Taylor that shows us he can do it. They are going to compete, they are going to push, and I’m looking forward to it.”

While Fitzpatrick is currently being heralded as the starter, Rivera noted that the other quarterbacks will get the chance to prove they can be starters.

“You try to create situations that are going to be as gamelike as possible,” Rivera said. “You want to be able to rotate guys so that everybody gets an opportunity to work with the same group of players. You try to create that energy for guys stepping on the field knowing that they are working with the ones [first-teamers]. That’s one of the things we’ve done in the past that shows how you find out about players.”

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