Cowboys RBs coach: Leaner Ezekiel Elliott on a mission

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One year ago at this time, Ezekiel Elliott had the weight of a pending suspension hanging over his head. It affected the Dallas Cowboys' running back mentally and physically.

Zeke entered training camp last season out of shape. This time around, his coaches are seeing a different player. One that shed the weight, literally and figuratively.

"You go at this time last year, he's very stressed out," running backs coach Gary Brown said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Wasn't himself. Looked big. Now he looks happy and jubilant and lean and just going out there and having some fun. So it's a completely different Zeke than it was last year."

The Cowboys haven't changed Elliott's official weight, but it's clear that the running back is leaner than he was a season ago. After reporting to camp his first two seasons somewhat out of shape, the third-year pro has slimmed down and taken on a leadership role.

"He has a clear focus and clear vision on what he wants to do and what he wants to be," Brown said. "When you look at him physically and see where he has leaned up then you see the way he runs out here. You can tell he is in a different place right now.

"He is in much better shape mentally too. He doesn't have all that stuff on his mind. He has a clear vision on what he wants to do and what he wants to be. He has a clear mind. He wants to be the best.

We are going to get a good Zeke this year. He is on a mission. You can see it already."

A healthy and focused Elliott out of the gate could make a big difference for the ground-and-pound Cowboys. Since he was drafted in the first round, we haven't seen the running back ready to go from the start of training camp. In two seasons, he's played his way into shape.

In light of owning major questions at receiver, the Cowboys plan to ride Elliott hard in 2018. The sleeked-down back appears ready to take on all tacklers.

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