Heading into Labor Day weekend, there was significant hope that running back Ezekiel Elliott would agree to a contract extension with the Dallas Cowboys. Multiple reporters had said that both parties wanted to get pen to paper before the end of the weekend in order for Zeke to participate in week one's battle against the New York Giants. Unfortunately for both sides, the contract talks stalled late on Sunday and don't appear to be finishing prior to Tuesday.
With Zeke's contract becoming a prominent storyline all training camp and through the preseason, it was expected that some of his teammates would grow tired of the storyline. After all, the other members of the team have been constantly answering questions about Zeke for weeks on end. However, that simply hasn't been the case. The team is not upset with the running back or his ongoing negotiations. According to offensive lineman La'el Collins, Zeke isn't just a teammate.
"[Zeke's] not just a teammate, he's family," Collins said. "Having that kinda guy around, that personality, it brings everybody up. I don't know another guy w/ as strong a look in his eyes as Zeke. That guy has a different look in his eyes on gameday. You feed off that."
With Collins reaffirming that the players are happy with Zeke, the next focus becomes how his running style affects the offensive line. The former Ohio State star is equally effective as a runner between the tackles or on the outside, which makes him difficult to defend.
However, he is also built more to withstand punishment than rookie Tony Pollard considering that Zeke is listed at 225 pounds while the Memphis product is 209. Does Pollard being a smaller back that has been viewed as more of a receiving option affect the way that Collins and co. block on running plays?
"I don't think so," Collins said. "For us, it doesn't really change. We just go out there and play with the same technique we always play with. We lean on our training, and we just go out there and play hard and let the backs do their thing back there when they get the ball."
For Collins, he isn't particular about which running back is carrying the football on any given play. Yes, Zeke is a beloved teammate and does provide the team with a better chance to control the game, but whether he or Pollard is on the field will not affect the way that Collins approaches his job.
Similarly, the big tackle won't let Zeke's ongoing contract negotiations change his preparation or his opinion of the former fourth overall pick. Collins will still view Zeke as a member of the family, no matter what happens.