Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott praised the physical condition of running back Ezekiel Elliott ahead of the 2021 NFL season.
"Zeke looks great," Prescott told 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."
Elliott was one of the league's most dynamic playmakers across his first four NFL seasons. The 2016 first-round pick won two rushing titles (2016 and 2018) while recording 7,024 yards from scrimmage and 48 total touchdowns across 56 games.
The 25-year-old Ohio State product saw his production dip last season, though. He set career-low totals in rushing yards (979) and touchdowns (eight). He also averaged a mediocre 4.0 yards per carry after checking in at 4.6 YPC from 2016 through 2019.
Part of that drop-off can be attributed to the Cowboys' offensive struggles as a whole after Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5. Dallas, which led the NFL in yards per game in 2019 (431.5), fell to 14th in the category in 2020 (371.8).
Prescott, who's on track to return from the injury to lead the team's offense to open the new season in September, is confident Elliott will return to form in 2021.
"When Zeke's healthy and Zeke's doing his thing, he's the best running back in the league," he 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."
Between Prescott, Elliott and the wide receiver trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys can match up with any team's high-end star power offensively.
The bigger question is whether Dallas' defense can make enough improvements after ranking 23rd in yards allowed per game last season (386.4). They added linebacker Tarell Basham and safety Keanu Neal in free agency and used their first six draft picks on defenders, led by linebacker Micah Parsons in Round 1.
With Prescott's return, the defensive upgrades and potentially a bounce-back year from Elliott, the Cowboys could emerge as a serious contender in the NFC.
Dallas will receive an immediate litmus test as it opens the regular season Sept. 9 by visiting the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.