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Chancellor 'surprised' by Ezekiel Elliott's physicality

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Ezekiel Elliott's preseason debut flashed everything the Dallas Cowboys thought the former Ohio State product could be: Fast, elusive, decisive, powerful, agile, speed to the edge, good hands and the ability to block.

Perhaps the most evident aspect of Elliott's game that pops off the film is the rookie's willingness to take on contact. Elliott ended nearly all of his seven rushes by ramming his shoulder square into whatever defender dared attempt to make a tackle.

On several of the runs, Elliott lowered the boom on notorious hard-hitter Kam Chancellor. The Seattle Seahawks safety said he was surprised on the first collision that the rookie initiated contact.

"I was, because there was no film on him, so I didn't know if he was going to juke or whatnot, so I was a little surprised, but not the second time," Chancellor said, via ESPN. "The second time, you know I'm bringing that wood. I was a little surprised the first time, but he's got a lot of courage for that. I'll give it to him. But if it was a full game, it would have been a bloodbath.

"He lowered his shoulder the first time, and I commend him for that. But I was just out there having fun. I was just taking on the challenge. I love a challenge. I love a good fight."

Several plays later Chancellor was flagged for a late hit when he smashed Elliott late on an incomplete pass that was skipping on the ground by the time the blow took place. Chancellor said he wasn't trying to send a message to the rookie -- but it sure felt like a "welcome to the NFL" moment for Elliott.

"It wasn't no flag," Chancellor said. "It was going straight to him, and somebody tipped it at the last minute when I'm already about to hit him, so I can't see where the ball landed. I'm going to have to appeal it probably, and they'll see what I'm talking about."

The Seattle defense tried to make life tough on Elliott, who said there was plenty of "rookie talk" aimed at him during the game.

"They thought they had to welcome me in because I'm a rookie," Elliott said, "so they were giving me all that rookie talk. But I had to let them know I belong here."

Elliott's physicality isn't a surprise -- it's how he ran in college -- but it's a welcome sight for a young back to take on contact instead of trying to hit a home run every play. It's easier to embrace contact when your offensive line allows you to get to the second level nearly every run, but blasting defensive backs at every turn is also the type of mentality that translates to games that count.

Elliott is the complete package at running back. Even his pass blocking is superb. (It will get lost on the Tony Romo injury play, but Elliott made a great block to initially save his quarterback by taking out a rushing linebacker.)

After some scoffed at the Cowboys drafting Elliott No. 4 overall, the rookie showed Thursday why he will be the three-down workhorse for Dallas when the real games begin.

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