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Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension riles players to ‘prepare for war’ against NFL wholesale jerseys

Ezekiel Elliott intends to put his suspension behind him.

That doesn’t mean it will go away.

Now that the Cowboys running back has dealt with the ramifications of his six-game suspension for domestic violence, it’s the NFL’s turn. The prolonged investigation into Elliott’s behavior and purported flaws in the process will be cited by the players in their looming negotiations with the NFL.

The collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of the 2020 season. DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the Players Association, made it clear in a news conference Thursday that the players have no intention of extending the current agreement.

There’s a sense a pound of flesh was extracted from the players in previous negotiations and the union must make amends.

“We prepare for war,” Smith declared. “If we’re able to get a collective bargaining agreement done, that’s great. All of these men went through a unilateral declared war on players in 2010 and 2011.”

Smith declined to reduce the list of disagreements between the NFL and its players to a top three or five. The philosophical divide is too great — and the strategic benefit non-existent — to do so at this stage.

But the unchecked power of Roger Goodell on disciplinary matters is a major point of contention. Many players consider him a commissioner run amok.

Count Zak DeOssie of the New York Giants in that group. DeOssie, whose father played linebacker for the Cowboys along with three other NFL teams, is a member of the NFLPA’s executive committee.

He was one of the players on stage with Smith for Thursday’s news conference.

“This is an issue that has been a thorn in our side, commissioner discipline or player discipline, that we want to collectively bargain,” DeOssie said. “To let them have the autonomy to make these decisions, it’s honestly not good for us and it’s not good for the NFL.

“Any way we can move forward and get that collectively bargained is something we really want.”

There’s an owner in Dallas — more specifically, Frisco — who sides with DeOssie and the players on this issue.

There are fundamental differences between the NFL and its players. Smith spoke about how this will lead to a grinding, exhausting process.

The discipline imposed on Elliott and how Goodell arrived at that decision will be used by the players to grind on the NFL in the upcoming negotiations.

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Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott’s sliding numbers make guard a top priority

Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension hampered the Dallas Cowboys run game in 2017. Though his productivity was already sliding before the pause.

The 2016 Dallas Cowboys had a deliberate, ground-and-pound offensive identity. Blast holes for their star rookie runner, Ezekiel Elliott, to move the chains, and hold the ball.

Zeke’s six-game suspension was destructive to maintaining that strategy in 2017. Yet his decline in productivity also shows there was more to the issues.

To accurately compare the past two seasons, it’s best to toss aside the two games after Zeke was reinstated. All-pro left tackle Tyron Smith was on the shelf.

By comparing 2016 with the first eight games of 2017, it minimizes the variances. Only left guard and right tackle featured different players.

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Ronald Leary passed the left guard torch to Jonathan Cooper. Doug Free turned over the right tackle reins to La’el Collins.

Other than those two spots, the rushing components were the same in both seasons.

Collins had early struggles with pass blocking at tackle. However his run blocking was on par or slightly above Free right from the gate.

The obvious run blocking downgrade most fans can agree on was Cooper. Leary was a road grader with far superior power and consistency.

That being said, it’s likely the team views Cooper as a major reason Elliott’s run productivity slipped southward.

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