ARLINGTON, Texas -- If he can, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott wants to continue to play. He's just not sure he will be able to play next week against the Philadelphia Eagles because of a calf injury.
"I'm not shutting it down," Elliott said after missing the first game of his career due to injury in the Cowboys' 41-33 win against the San Francisco 49ers. "We'll see how it goes and I'll see if I can get out there next week."
Elliott did not practice leading into the Niners game but coach Mike McCarthy expected all along the running back would be able to get out on the field. He was limited in practice going into the Dec. 13 game against the Cincinnati Bengals and had 48 yards on 12 carries.
"Honestly, I hadn't been feeling the best all week, but on gamedays I've been able to go normally," Elliott said. "But at first I was feeling good, but [Saturday] I felt a tug and that's something I can't really play with. I can play with pain and soreness, but with a tug, I can't be as explosive as I need to be."
Elliott went through his early pregame warmup, working on resistance training with associate athletic trainer Britt Brown, but the determination was made that Elliott would sit not long thereafter.
"We just felt like it was not in the best interest to go with him," McCarthy said. "We'll see how he's evaluated (Monday) and see where he can go come Wednesday (for practice)."
Tony Pollard replaced Elliott and had the first two-touchdown game of his career. He finished with 69 yards on 12 carries and led the Cowboys with six catches for 63 yards. He had 62 yards from scrimmage in the first quarter. Elliott's best first-quarter total of the season was 36 against the Cleveland Browns.
"It was a last minute, game time decision," Pollard said when asked when he knew Elliott would be out. "I mean, all week we knew he was, you know, banged up a little bit. But, you know, a guy like Zeke we always expect him to play, so it was definitely a surprise. Something that we weren't expecting."
Elliott was held out of two Week 17 matchups in 2016 and 2018 when the Cowboys had their playoff positioning wrapped up. He missed six games in 2017 because of a suspension.
The season has been a struggle for Elliott. He has 832 yards on 211 carries with five touchdowns, but also has lost a career-high five fumbles and has just one 100-yard game on the season. When he has played a full season, he has never had less than 1,357 yards rushing. Entering Sunday, he was on pace for 1,024 yards.