Ezekiel Elliott acknowledged the running game is taking longer to progress this year than last year. The numbers showcase that.
Through four games last year, Elliott had rushed for 412 yards on 94 carries. That put him on track for 1,648 yards and he finished with a league-leading 1,631.
Through four games this year, Elliott has rushed for 277 yards on 76 carries. That puts him on track for 1,108.
By comparison, Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt is leading the league with 502 yards and is on track for a 2,000-yard season.
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“We’ve been making strides, but we still have a long ways to go,” Elliott said. “We haven’t played up to our capability just everywhere. Just a work-in-progress. We’ve got to keep working. We’ve got to keep grinding.”
Asked why the running game hasn’t been as successful, Elliott simply said: “We’re just not executing.”
Said center Travis Frederick: “I don’t think we’ve been as efficient as we want to be in the run game. That’s something that we’re working on and obviously trying to improve.”
Maybe playing the Green Bay Packers on Sunday will help get the ground game on track. The Packers have the 19th-ranked run defense, allowing an average of 111 yards per game.
Elliott set his career-high in rushing against them in Week 6 last year, rushing for 157 yards on 28 carries in a 30-16 victory. He had 125 rushing yards on 22 carries in the playoff game.
But Elliott made it clear there is no panic in the locker room about the running game or team in general after a 2-2 start.
“We’re taking a little bit longer to progress this year,” Elliott said. “I really don’t think it’s a bad thing. You ought to be hitting your stride mid-to-late season than peaking early.
“As long as you hit your peak, it really doesn’t matter how long it takes you. We could lose six games in this league and still go to the playoffs and as long as you’re hitting your stride at the right time, then you’re good. There’s no panic in this locker room at all.”