When Ezekiel Elliott headed down to Cabo San Lucas at the start of training camp, there was an expectation that he would soon be back with the Dallas Cowboys, new contract in hand. However, that certainly wasn't the case. Elliott ultimately spent 40 days in Mexico before rejoining his team following the preseason. That's a considerable amount of time to spend in one place, in this instance, the Diamante resort. So how did Elliott keep his sanity and fill his days during this holdout?
According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, the answer is not that simple. There were nights filled with poker, days filled with workouts, and a mixture of football drills and recovery sessions.
Through it all, Zeke was never alone in the 4,000-square-foot villa that he occupied. He was joined by figures from Alliance Management Group, who represented him during negotiations, other NFL free agents, and trainer Joe Ferrer.
"Every football player on earth will tell you that you can do as much offseason training as you want," Ferrer said. "You've just got to get those reps with the team to get in that real good football shape. We can run him all day, but until he puts those pads on, gets in those drills and plays with the team, that's a little different.
"Our main goal was to keep him healthy. Get him a little bit faster. Maintain his strength; he's already a big, strong dude. And make sure he shows up to camp in good shape, healthy and ready to go. ... He pretty much exceeded every expectation I had just because he committed every single day."
Achieving Ferrer's goals of keeping Zeke healthy required the use of a custom training spot, which was created by Diamante resort members between the No. 1 and 9 golf fairways. This area had room for Zeke to go through running back drills, and it came complete with a beverage tent and a sound system.
When he wasn't working out, the Cowboys running back was playing Texas Hold 'Em with those at the resort while watching his team perform in preseason games. For food, Elliott ate custom-made Zeke Rolls that featured Wagyu beef and eel sauce on the outside with crab meat, avocado, and cucumber.
While this wasn't the ideal set of circumstances for either Zeke or the Cowboys considering that he was living down in Cabo while the rest of the team was preparing for the upcoming season, it ultimately did not have a negative effect on the season. According to head coach Jason Garrett, Zeke looked good in a debut in which he rushed for 53 yards on 13 carries and scored a touchdown. This was considerably less work than he is used to, but the wealthy running back was effective overall.
"He came back in shape and was ready to go," Garrett said Friday. "I thought he did a good job in the game with the workload we gave him, but there's no question he's getting more and more comfortable. The more you do something, the more comfortable you're going to get at it. ... He looks good. He looked good from the start."