FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys don’t know whether Garrett Gilbert or Cooper Rush will start at quarterback Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it’s possible either will have a less-than-100 percent Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott suffered a hamstring strain while trying to track down a fumble return for a touchdown in last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and has been limited in the last two practices. Coach Mike McCarthy said he thought Elliott would have done more in Thursday’s work than he did, but speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he expects the running back to play against the Steelers.
“He’s got a hamstring that we’re just being smart with,” McCarthy said. “That’s why he was limited [Thursday], feels better today. But our work [Saturday] will tell us a lot and we’ll take it all the way to the pregame workout.”
Elliott is normally among the first players on the field for early warm-ups.
On Thursday, Elliott went through some resistance training rehab in full pads during the open portion of practice to the media. The Cowboys do not practice on Friday. Instead, they go through a soft-tissue activation and acceleration program and have a practice Saturday.
If Elliott suffers a setback or is limited, the Cowboys would go with Tony Pollard. They also have undrafted rookie Rico Dowdle on the 53-man roster.
Elliott is in the midst of his longest streak without a 100-yard game. He is on pace for just 1,042 yards, being impacted by the loss of QB Dak Prescott as well as large deficits in games that have prevented the Cowboys from running as much.
“Tony Pollard is ready for as much or any role we need him,” McCarthy said. “I’ve been impressed with him the last three weeks. He’s played very well.”
McCarthy did not have an update on the quarterback situation with one more practice to go. Neither Gilbert nor Rush has started a game in their careers, but McCarthy said the game plan for either would be the same.
“We’re still working through the process,” McCarthy said. “I think the most important point, as far as the goal, is to make sure both Garrett and Cooper are ready to play. So I mean the reps aren’t being distributed equally. I really don’t want to get into the specifics of it, but just learning from last week’s experience, just with all the pressure in the Philadelphia game, just to give us the best opportunity offensively, my focus is to make sure both Garrett and Cooper are ready to play in the game.”