Joe Mixon, Melvin Gordon Question Ezekiel Elliott's Usage in Cowboys' Season Opener

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 10, 2021

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio

The Dallas Cowboys didn't give Ezekiel Elliott many touches in the first half of the team's matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night, and a few NFL running backs wondered why. 

Both Denver Broncos halfback Melvin Gordon III and Cincinnati Bengals star Joe Mixon voiced their confusion on Twitter:

⚡️Primetime!!!⚡️ @Joe_MainMixon

Bro I been saying that same thing ‼️ <a href="https://t.co/v434t9O6Fd">https://t.co/v434t9O6Fd</a>

At the time of publication in the late second quarter, Elliott had just four carries for 12 yards and a reception for three yards in Dallas' first six drives. 

He was getting the majority of the snaps, however:

Nathan Jahnke @PFF_NateJahnke

Cowboys HB snap count after 5 drives<br><br>Ezekiel Elliott 27<br>Tony Pollard 9<br><br>Out of 32 plays

With quarterback Dak Prescott back after his 2020 ankle injury and Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup at wideout, there's no doubt the Cowboys will throw the ball quite a bit this year. Five touches for a star halfback like Elliott feels pretty low, however. 

Perhaps the Cowboys are throwing early with the intent to run late and wear down defenses with Elliott's physical style in the fourth quarter. Or perhaps the team didn't feel comfortable with its chances of having success on the ground against Tampa's excellent front seven. 

Whatever the case, Elliott didn't play a huge part in the team's early drives.