Eagles

Ezekiel Elliott freed to play by court, senses 'burst of adrenalin'

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AP Images

Ezekiel Elliott freed to play by court, senses 'burst of adrenalin'

NEW YORK -- Ezekiel Elliott felt a "burst of adrenalin" surge through the Dallas Cowboys locker room after a court freed him to play Sunday rather than begin a six-game suspension. He also blasted the claims against him, saying: "I'm not an abuser."

"My energy level is high like the rest of this team," the star running back said at his locker after a federal appeals judge in New York ruled Friday he can play at least one more game -- at home against Kansas City -- before a three-judge panel takes up his case.

His status after Sunday will be decided by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, perhaps as early as next week.

Elliott assailed what he said was the NFL's attempt to muddy his name, saying a prolonged fight in the courts was worthwhile.

"This is bigger than a suspension. It's bigger than football. Them trying to make me something I'm not. I'm not an abuser," he said. "That's not who I am. This is my name and this is my reputation. This is something I'm going to have to live with beyond football. Every day is worth fighting."

Elliott, smiling at times, said he "threw a sweat shirt on, grabbed my backpack and was on my way here" as soon as his agent notified him Friday morning. He had been away from the team for three days this week because of the suspension.

"I kind of felt, a little bit, it seemed like a burst of adrenaline in this team when I came in the locker room and everyone saw me and realized I was going this week," he said.

He said he'd welcomed a few off days when he ran but also recovered from a "heavy load" last Sunday, when he rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-19 victory at Washington.

"I'm fresh. I feel fresh," he said.

Coach Jason Garrett said Elliott would practice Friday and spend some extra time through the weekend preparing to face the Chiefs.

"We'll make sure he's ready to go," Garrett said. "Zeke's a smart guy. He's played a lot of football for us in a short period of time."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told his radio show that the availability of a player such as Elliott based on what a court decides is a "new experience for us."

The Elliott suspension has been weaving through the courts since he was ordered in August to serve the ban for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. The suspension came after the NFL investigated his alleged use of force in the summer of 2016 against his girlfriend.

Prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio, decided not to pursue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State, citing conflicting evidence. Elliott denied the allegations under oath during his NFL appeal.

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 to Judge Katherine Polk Failla's ruling Monday that Elliott must begin his suspension.

An immediate appeal by the NFL Players Association to the 2nd Circuit and a request that he be allowed to play Sunday won a one-game reprieve Friday from Circuit Judge Susan Carney with no comment on the merits of the union's arguments.

In written arguments submitted to the 2nd Circuit Thursday, the league argued that the issues were bigger than a single player.

The league said the public, including NFL fans and victims of abuse, have a "strong interest" in seeing that penalties stemming from domestic abuse by NFL players are promptly investigated and that discipline is imposed in a timely manner.

It said "swift discipline" should not be manipulated by players and teams seeking to strategically time court challenges so that suspensions are served when they play weaker opponents or when an injury would already require a player to remain off the field.

Lawyers on both sides did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The players' union said in court papers that Failla was the first judge to have "concluded that professional athletes with short career spans do not face irreparable harm" when suspensions are enforced before appeals options have been exhausted.

The NFL said roughly 100 players were suspended for approximately 500 games over the past season and a half.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady served a four-game suspension at the start of last season after delaying it a year through the courts. The 2nd Circuit ultimately ruled against the players' union.

The Cowboys (4-3) are in second place in the NFC East. They take on a Chiefs team that is 6-2 and leads the AFC West. Elliott is the league's third-leading rusher and against Kansas City will be facing a team that has been vulnerable against the run.

When do players know their football days are over?

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USA Today Images

When do players know their football days are over?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss Father's Day weekend. What kind of basketball parent is Barrett? The guys give their 53-man roster after spring practices. Tom Brady says he can feel his playing days are getting numbered. When do players first start realizing that the end is near and what makes that reality most difficult? Also, how should the Giants handle Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract situation?

"I think that Saquon [Barkley] is going to be better than [Ezekiel] Elliott." — Barrett Brooks.

1:00 - What kind of basketball parent is Barrett?
3:00 - Father's Day weekend recap.
5:00 - Eagles' 53-man roster after spring practices.
15:30 - Tom Brady tells Oprah the end is near ... when do players start seeing that reality?
20:00 - The hardest part about having to say goodbye to football.
23:00 - Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract situation.

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

The Eagles were just a few days away from the Super Bowl and there was a clear indication of just how loose the team really was. 

On Feb. 1, Carson Wentz tweeted out a photo proving it. 

So, what’s the point of this? Why show a photo that Wentz sent out from an escape room well over four months ago?

Well, because it was a little glimpse into the future. Because the five guys in that photo are going to be the five guys in the Eagles’ quarterback room this season. 

Along with Wentz, Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld, the other two are Press Taylor (sitting) and Spencer Phillips. This offseason, after John DeFilippo left Philadelphia to take the offensive coordinator job in Minnesota, the Eagles promoted Taylor to take his position as quarterbacks coach and then promoted Phillips to take Taylor’s spot as the assistant quarterbacks coach. 

It was probably a no-brainer. 

And it’s crazy to think, but just a year after the Eagles blocked DeFilippo from leaving the organization, DeFilippo has left … and the Eagles are going to be just fine. 

At the time, before the 2017 season, it made sense to block DeFilippo. He was seemingly integral to the development of a young Wentz and he certainly deserves plenty of credit for the big jump in Wentz’s play last season. But now, without him, the Eagles are going to keep a finely-tuned machine running. And they’re going to do it with a very young and very promising coach. 

Taylor is just 30 years old, which seems incredibly young for a coach who is supposed to lead the most important position room for the Eagles and possibly the most important position room in the entire league. He’s just one year older than Foles. 

He might be young, but Taylor is uniquely positioned to handle this responsibility. And aside from his football acumen — which has been touted by his superiors — it’s his relationship with the players in the room that made him such a no-brainer replacement for DeFilippo. 

“I feel really close (to Wentz, Foles and Sudfeld),” Taylor said last week. “I know what makes them tick going into it. And then we all had our own relationships. Obviously, I wasn’t their quarterbacks coach at the time, but I was in the room, sat through those conversations, had my own conversations out on the practice field. I feel like I know the things they like, the things they didn’t like. And then was able to learn from the other guys, the other coaches in the room.”

After the Super Bowl, Taylor is probably best known in the city for bringing the Philly Special to the Eagles. In his position last year, it was his job to mine gadget plays from around the league and found that play being used by the Bears the season before (see story). And that’s great. But all the stuff we don’t know about last year is what’s going to make the most difference for the Eagles this season. 

Taylor has been with the Eagles since 2013, when Chip Kelly brought him to town. And then Doug Pederson was smart enough (and without ego) to keep Taylor in 2016. The brother of Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Press has quickly worked his way up the ladder. 

Last week, Wentz was asked if the team wanted his opinion before promoting Taylor. 

“I think it was pretty much known how we felt about Press beforehand,” Wentz said. “We’ve seen Press behind the scenes the last couple years and how hard he works. A lot of guys have a ton of respect for him as a person and as a coach. I know that’s where I sit. So far, it’s been great. He understands the game extremely well. We’re very like-minded, both on and off the field. The relationship I have with him personally and the relationship he has with all the quarterbacks has been tremendous so far.”

The relationship between Taylor and the QBs is so important. Relationships for this entire coaching staff are so important. Really, that’s what has made Pederson so special. He has that “emotional intelligence” and understands how to deal with his players. 

Taylor seems to have that too. And really, that’s why the Eagles’ QB room won’t miss a beat. 

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