To hear the Chiefs, they never stopped preparing for Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
On Friday, a federal appeals court granted the NFL Players Association a brief administrative stay for Elliott, meaning he is eligible for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs.
Elliott’s status had been uncertain most of the week, but not to the Chiefs.
“We didn’t even talk about it as a defense,” linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “We had to prepare like he is playing.
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“And their scheme for the last few years, even without Zeke, has been at the top of the food chain when it comes to running the ball.”
Elliott received a six-game suspension on Aug. 11 for violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, related to domestic violence allegations by a former girlfriend. He was never charged with a crime.
The second year pro has rushed for 690 yards and six touchdowns in seven games. In the Cowboys’ last two games, victories over the 49ers and Washington, Elliott has rushed for 297 yards.
Now, he’ll get a crack at a Chiefs’ rushing defense that ranks 28th in the NFL.
“Listen,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We planned on it anyway. He’s a good player. We look forward to the challenge of playing him.”
The appeals court’s decision to allow Elliott to play on Sunday will be followed next week by a reinstatement of the suspension. The federal court will consider the injunction after this weekend’s game.
The issue of whether Elliott would or would not be playing Sunday has simmered all week. On Monday night, while the Chiefs were beating the Broncos 29-19 at Arrowhead Stadium, a federal judge in New York had rejected Elliott’s motion for a preliminary injunction and his six-game suspension was reinstated.
The NFLPA on Wednesday moved for an injunction in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in attempt to reinstate Elliott while an appeal is heard, Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News reported.
On Thursday came the specific request to allow Elliott to play Sunday.
While Elliott was never arrested following the domestic violence allegations in July 2016, the NFL concluded he had several physical confrontations with the woman.
In his two seasons with the Cowboys, Elliott has 2,321 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns.