When the Patriots signed Ezekiel Elliott in August, the plan was always to slot him in at RB2 behind Rhamondre Stevenson. With Stevenson trending up after a 1,000-yard season in 2022 and Elliott’s career seemingly on the way down, it made sense for Elliott to take on a more limited role behind the younger and more explosive Stevenson.
It didn’t take long for those plans to change, however. In a surprising twist, their roles have flipped for Week 4’s matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.
Ezekiel Elliott News Week 4
According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, Elliott is expected to get “starter reps” against his former team on Sunday. Elliott played with the Cowboys from 2016-2022 and is making his return to Dallas after the team cut him in the offseason.
This revelation comes on the heels of Elliott’s strong Week 3 performance where he clearly outplayed Stephenson. Elliott out-rushed Stephenson 80 yards to 59 despite receiving 3 fewer carries (16 vs. 19), helping New England beat the New York Jets 15-10 for its first win of the season.
Week 3 marked a major spike in usage for Elliott, who had only received 12 carries over the first two weeks combined. He’d missed most of the preseason after signing with the Patriots in August and needed some time to get up to speed, but apparently he now feels comfortable enough in the offense to lead New England’s backfield.
It also helps his case that Stephenson has been a massive disappointment so far, averaging a career-low 2.9 yards per carry. His struggles opened the door for Elliott to steal his role as RB1, at least for a week.
With the Patriots looking to upset a tough Cowboys team on the road this week, perhaps the coaching staff felt a shakeup was needed to give the sputtered offense a spark. New England currently ranks 26th in points scored and has struggled on the ground, ranking 23rd in both rushing touchdowns and yards per attempt.
Look for Elliott to get around 15-20 touches again this week and potentially score his first touchdown of the season.
Hopefully Zeke can step up against his old team today and this move motivates Stephenson to step up his game. If both play well, perhaps the Patriots will leave Dallas with a surprising victory.
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