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Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension reinstated again, will not play Sunday

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Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension reinstated again, will not play Sunday

NEW YORK -- Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott's half-season run from his six-game suspension ended Thursday when a federal appeals court refused to let him play while it considers his appeal.

A bespectacled Elliott in a suit and tie sat directly in front of a three-judge panel that considered a request from the NFL Players Association that he be allowed to play. But the court issued an order in less than an hour disqualifying him from Sunday's game at Atlanta. It appears he'll miss all of November's games since the court set a Dec. 1 hearing for oral arguments on the merits of the union's appeal.

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The suspension was ordered in August as discipline after the league investigated allegations he used force against his girlfriend in the summer of 2016. Elliott vehemently denied the allegations as recently as last week, saying he was not an abuser.

A federal appeals court last month tossed out his court challenge in Texas, but the league's request for a New York court to affirm that it had acted properly led a Manhattan judge to rule last month that Elliott must begin his suspension. After the union appealed, the lower-court decision was temporarily stayed, allowing Elliott to play last Sunday.

By Thursday's ruling, Elliott had already left the courthouse without speaking to reporters, though he shook the hand of a person who shouted that he was a "huge fan" as Elliott raced down steps to a sport utility vehicle.

Although the league won the battle, the appeals judges took a few shots at the NFL for its handling of the suspension of a 22-year-old athlete who will be sidelined while he's second in the league with 783 yards rushing and tied for the league lead with seven rushing touchdowns.

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Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs told Paul Clement, the NFL's lawyer, that he found it odd that the issue was "such a frantic emergency that it can't wait another couple months."

"This is not just about Elliott and the Cowboys," Clement responded, noting that 100 players across the league had been suspended for a total of 500 games over the last two seasons.

"Unfortunately, discipline is a fact of life in the NFL," the lawyer said. "They all have an interest in seeing the same basic rules applied to them."

Clement said it was important that players not be able to "game the system" by using the courts to delay suspensions until it is convenient for them or their teams.

Still, he noted, Elliott would start his suspension as the Cowboys enter the "easy part" of their schedule.

"This is the ideal time for him to serve the suspension," Clement said.

Attorney Andrew Tulumello, arguing for the union, urged the 2nd Circuit to let Elliott play, saying missing games was irreparable harm and the union deserved additional time "to prove these events did not occur."

The NFL did not comment on the court's order, though it affirmed that the suspension was in place.

Elliott's attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Elliott arrived at the hearing just minutes before it began. He was smiling and greeting his lawyers before he moved his chair to face the judges more directly.

Elliott had received three different legal reprieves as he played the season's first eight games.

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While clock ticks with Kirk Cousins, multiple mock drafts connect Redskins with Baker Mayfield

While clock ticks with Kirk Cousins, multiple mock drafts connect Redskins with Baker Mayfield

NFL mock drafts are wildly unreliable, and of the good ones, the full picture doesn't start to become clear until much closer to draft night. 

Think about it: The NFL playoffs aren't even over yet. Most teams are in self-evaluation mode, readying decisions for free agency. Once NFL teams get to the NFL Combine in late February, that's when draft boards start to come to shape. And those draft boards aren't finalized for at least another month after a slew of college pro days. 

Still, mock drafts are fun to look at and discuss, and draft experts like ESPN's Mel Kiper and Bleacher Report's Matt Miller are well plugged in.

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So when both of them have the Redskins drafting Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield with the 13th overall pick, the interest level spikes. 

From Miller

Washington would be a great fit for Mayfield. He doesn't go to a city with an intense media market (New York) or a city with a long history of losing and a ton of pressure on a rookie quarterback (Cleveland). And with Jay Gruden as the head coach, Mayfield lands in a place where he'll be coached up and a scheme can be built around him.​

While the Redskins still have about two months to try and work out a long-term deal with current quarterback Kirk Cousins, few people around the situation feel a lot of optimism. Cousins gave a lukewarm answer about wanting to stay in Washington, and for years he has talked about wanting to see his true value on the open market. 

Washington head coach Jay Gruden discussed his frustration with keeping Cousins on a one-year deal, as the Redskins have done the past two seasons. The coach wants his QB to be with the team for the long-term, and that could become clear by the NFL Draft in late April. 

If Cousins and the Redskins have not signed a long-term deal by the draft, and it seems unlikely, Washington should absolutely consider a QB with their first round pick.

What passer to take is a different argument, and that will be up to Bruce Allen, Doug Williams, Gruden and a collection of the Redskins highest scouts. There are also a number of QB-needy teams drafting ahead of Washington. 

As for Mayfield, he was certainly a star in college. As a senior he won the 2017 Heisman Trophy, throwing for more than 4,600 yards with 43 touchdowns against just six interceptions. He completed an absurd 70 percent of his passes, extremely high accuracy for a college passer. He also ran for another 300 yards and five more scores. 

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There are questions about Mayfield. He might lack the height of traditional NFL quarterbacks, and he might lack the game of a traditional NFL pocket passer. Plus, he showed immaturity in on-field celebrations multiple times in 2017 and had an offseason arrest that resulted in a plea deal with Arkansas police. 

Plenty of players will get drafted that showed immaturity and even had offseason arrests. That's nothing new. 

For the Redskins, the biggest question remains Cousins' future. Once that's decided, or if it gets decided, the team will need to make a decision with the 13th pick. Looks like that decision could easily include Baker Mayfield. 

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Who will be the Redskins' core defensive players three years from now?

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Who will be the Redskins' core defensive players three years from now?

Just before training camp last year, I took a stab at figuring out who on the Redskins roster would still be with the team and contributing in the year 2020. Now that the season is over, let’s revisit that look, move it up to 2021, and see how much the picture has changed. I looked at the offense earlier, the defense is up today.

The terms used here are mostly self-explanatory, if you want details you can look at this post from a couple of years ago.  

Defense (age as of Week 1 2021)

Potential blue-chip players: Jonathan Allen (26)
Changes from last prediction: Removed Josh Norman (33)

Allen was already playing well and getting better when a Week 6 Lisfranc injury ended his rookie season. He will continue to improve.

Norman will be a free agent in 2021. He still could be an effective contributor in Washington or elsewhere but his days as a blue-chip player likely will be over.

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This is a pretty thin group of blue-chip defenders and even Allen has question marks until he puts at least two fully healthy seasons on his NFL resume.

Solid starters: Ryan Kerrigan (33), D. J. Swearinger (30), Kendall Fuller (26), Preston Smith (28), Matt Ioannidis (27), Anthony Lanier (28)
Changes: Added Fuller, Smith, Ioannidis, Lanier, removed Su’a Cravens, Bashaud Breeland, Ryan Anderson (27), Zach Brown (31)

Age obviously could be an issue with Kerrigan and Swearinger. Kerrigan’s career has the look of one of a player who can still play well into his mid-30’s but you never know. Swearinger will just be hitting football middle age, but the high-speed hits delivered by safeties tend to shorten careers.

The others will just be hitting the primes of their careers in 2021. Ioannidis should continue to improve and Lanier needs to play better against the run to be a starter. If Smith can perform at his highest level consistently, he could edge up towards blue-chip territory.

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Cravens is unlikely to return after his rocky departure a week before the 2017 season. The chances are very good that Breeland will be gone in free agency in March. We really didn’t see enough from Anderson to figure out anything about his future, and while it’s possible that Brown will re-sign, I don’t see him still being here in 2021.

Potential starters: Trent Murphy (31), Quinton Dunbar (29), Fabian Moreau (27), Montae Nicholson (25)
Changes: Added Dunbar, Moreau, Nicholson, moved up Smith, Fuller, removed Mason Foster (32), Will Compton (31)

The most potential in this group comes from Nicholson and Moreau. Nicholson was headed to being in the “solid starters” group before his season was cut short with a concussion. He doesn’t have a bad injury history, as he missed just one game in his last two seasons at Michigan State, so there is reason to believe that he can stay healthy. Moreau has speed and a physical style and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him starting before the 2018 season is over.

If Preston Smith leaves as a free agent, Murphy could start on the edge. It seems likely that Dunbar will still be around and he could be a starter or a reserve.

There is one other group of players that is hard to classify based on a small sample size. We didn’t see enough out of rookies Anderson, Josh Holsey, Josh Harvey-Clemons to plot a career arc for them with any degree of reliability. Deshazor Everett will be 29 in 2021, and although right now he seems to be a special team player and spot starter, he could catch on and become a starter.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.