FRISCO, Texas (AP) Ezekiel Elliott was back with the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday, his six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations on hold again after the star running back served a day of it waiting for another reprieve that eventually came.
Last year’s NFL rushing leader left no doubt that he will keep fighting a legal battle that so far has lasted six weeks with hearings in three courts in three states.
A fourth hearing – and the second in a New York court – should happen before the end of the month.
”It’s fighting for your name, that’s what it is,” Elliott said. ”I think my representatives have done a good job just going out there and fighting for me. It’s been a lot of hard work and it’s definitely a tough job. They’ve definitely served me well.”
Elliott was granted his second temporary restraining order, this one from a New York judge , Tuesday night, clearing him to play Sunday at the San Francisco 49ers.
He likely will be eligible the following week at Washington based on the court’s timeline for another hearing.
The 22-year-old Elliott was suspended in August by Commissioner Roger Goodell after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 with Tiffany Thompson, his girlfriend at the time.
The NFL investigated after 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.
”When you get accused of something of that magnitude, you kind of get labeled as an abuser,” Elliott said Wednesday.
”And that’s just not me, that’s not how I want to be seen. That’s not how I want to represent my family. It’s just important for me to fight.”
Elliott’s teammates are behind him, even if it is a distraction. And at least one player is willing to acknowledge it is, along with owner Jerry Jones’ self-induced saga of threatening to bench players who don’t stand for the national anthem. Both issues percolated during the bye last week.
”Just been some tough things going on,” linebacker Justin Durant said. ”Obviously some stuff that’s out of our hands. Trying to deal with it the best way we can.”
Elliott was suspended Tuesday when the Cowboys returned from their week off.
The NFL placed him on the suspended list Friday, a day after a federal appeals court overturned a Texas court’s injunction that had kept Elliott on the field in Weeks 2-5.
With the ruling in New York, Elliott didn’t miss any practice time. He was on the field for the first full workout Wednesday.
”I don’t find it frustrating,” said quarterback Dak Prescott, who teamed with Elliott last year for a pair of remarkable rookie seasons that helped carry the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC.
”I find that there’s nothing I really can do. Just as I said, we’ll take it week by week. And as of this week, he’s playing so that’s all we’re worried about.”
The Cowboys (2-3) have already matched last season’s loss total, as has Prescott with his interceptions (four).
Since the 49ers are winless at 0-6, a return to the playoffs could get difficult if Dallas doesn’t win.
But the outlook is already brighter than it was over the weekend, when the Cowboys were thinking they would have to find a way to rebound without their top running back until late November.
”For us it’s really been status quo,” coach Jason Garrett said. ”Control what we can control. We think Zeke’s done an excellent job of focusing on what he needs to do. We certainly try to do that as a football team. So nothing’s really changed from our perspective.”
NOTES: DT Stephen Paea retired last week after consulting with medical staff over a knee injury the 29-year-old had been battling for several weeks. The Cowboys placed him on injured reserve and have yet to fill the roster spot. … All-Pro LB Sean Lee returned to practice during the bye and is expected to play against the 49ers after missing two games with a hamstring injury.
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