Four-time Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin feels the bar needs to be raised this season even though the Dallas Cowboys finished second in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 2017.
“Last year, we didn’t necessarily play up to our standard here and didn’t run the ball effectively as we needed to,” the 27-year-old Martin said, via the Dallas Morning News. “This group takes great pride in that and I know we’re going to try to get back to that. We’re excited for the challenge.”
Enter Ezekiel Elliott, who played with a shadow of a six-game suspension hanging over his head last season. The former Pro Bowl running back reportedly has stepped it up a notch in his preparation despite failing to play in the preseason.
“Zeke’s been on it since we started camp,” Martin said of the 23-year-old Elliott, who led the league 24.2 carries and 98.3 yards per game during his 10 contests last season.
“I’m sure you guys have seen it, just the way he’s running, the way he’s approaching every day. Something just feels different. I think he’s ready for a big year.”
The offensive line will be integral in Elliott’s success, although there are questions with the availability of the guys up front.
All-Pro center Travis Frederick’s availability is in question as he deals with Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Martin has dealt with an ailing knee, but says he feels ready for the start of the season.
“I feel great,” Martin said. “I feel ready to go. After the first few days, I felt good and have been back out there, no problems.”
The Cowboys open the season against the host Carolina Panthers on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.