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How will Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones honor Ezekiel Elliott? Do they miss him in red zone?

Benny Sieu // USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are cooking up something to honor former No. 4 pick Ezekiel Elliott when he returns to AT&T Stadium Sunday with the New England Patriots.

Owner Jerry Jones declined to say what the Cowboys were going to do for the two-time NFL rushing champion who the team released in March for salary cap reasons and a declined in production.

But indicated that something was afoot to honor the team’s third all-time leading rusher.

“I don’t want to blow a surprise,”Jones said when asked about it on his radio show on 105.3 The Fan.

Jones, however, gushed over the type of player and teammate Elliott was with the Cowboys from 2016-2022.

“I know that he was one of the best teammates that I’ve had the privilege of seeing on the Cowboys,” Jones said. “For his team, he was inspirational. He was inspirational before the games, his practice habits were off the charts — he just would basically practice as though every play was for all the marbles. He had very unique skills as a running back, and boy, he could lower that pad and lower that center of gravity.

“As far as a back that the opposing team hates to tackle, I think he’s at the top of the list. (Earl) Campbell of the Houston Oilers seems to have that (title) — but man, Zeke took a toll on those defensive players. So I’ll always remember that, I’ll remember his positiveness. He has the perfect mentality to play this game and be a pro.”

It’s ironic that Elliott’s return coincides with the team’s struggles in the red zone through the first three games of the season.

While Elliott’s production declined over the last few years, he always had a nose for the end zone down close. He had 12 rushing touchdowns in 2022.

So do the Cowboys, who didn’t offer Elliott a contract to return to the team, miss him in the red zone?

“Well, Zeke’s unique physicalness is always nice to have,” Jones said. “Nice to have, to be trite about it, it’s very good to have. We think of physical on short yardage and probably should, but I don’t think that physicalness from the running back is contributing to us not getting in the end zone.”