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A big year for Ezekiel Elliott among bold predictions for the Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys will begin the 2020 season on Sept. 13 and they will be counting on several notable players to push them over the top in the NFC.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) catches a pass against defensive end Justin March (59) during an NFL training camp football practice in Frisco, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams are counting the days until Sunday night’s kickoff of their 2020 football season debut. While the Dallas defense will be looking to improve with the help of a new coaching staff, the Cowboys’ offense is expected to be absolutely loaded across the board despite some early injuries along the offensive line. 

With that in mind, here are some bold predictions for a trio of Cowboys players ahead of the 2020 season: 

Ezekiel Elliott goes for over 1,800 yards from scrimmage

The talk all offseason in Dallas has been about the ascension of the passing game. There is a good reason for that. After all, the pass attack led by Dak Prescott was the most impactful area for the Cowboys last season and now they sport the addition of rookie top pick CeeDee Lamb at wide receiver and the expected emergence of Blake Jarwin at tight end. 

The Cowboys also return two 1,000-yard pass catchers in Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper. All eyes will be on Prescott and the pass catchers this year. That bodes well for former All-Pro and two-time rushing champion running back Ezekiel Elliott. 

With NFL defenses no doubt putting in more concerted efforts to slow down the passing game, Elliott is likely to get some favorable looks this upcoming year. Last season, Zeke challenged the 1,800-yard mark with 1,357 yards rushing and 420 receiving yards for a total of 1,777 yards. 

This year, look for Elliott to fly by the 1,800 mark and challenge his career-high of 2,001 yards from scrimmage (1,434 rushing, 567 receiving) which he set during the 2018 campaign. In 2020, while Dallas will feature one of the top offenses through the air, it should once again unlock the ground game for Elliott.

CeeDee Lamb will house two punt returns

There was perhaps no player in college football last season more elusive and exciting with the ball in his hands than Lamb. Now he’s a member of the Cowboys and, with him likely being the third option on passing plays, it would be a good idea to figure out ways to get him the ball and let him work his magic as often as Dallas can. 

One way to do this would be by letting him return punts. Don’t forget, the last No. 88 made an early name for himself as a rookie by returning kicks as Dez Bryant returned two punts for scores in the first seven weeks of the 2010 season. 

Lamb showed the ability to make an impact on special teams in Norman, as well.

The special teams unit for the Cowboys over the last several seasons has been anything but special. Injecting some youth and excitement with Lamb could have a ripple effect across the entire team. In the upcoming season, he should make like 88 and house a couple of kicks. 

Trevon Diggs will lead the team in interceptions

Oh, the Cowboys are the Cowboys, and creating turnovers is creating turnovers, and never the twain shall meet. The Dallas defense has had a rough go at being consistent with snatching the football away from offenses, especially when it comes to intercepting passes. 

With a new coaching staff bringing in a fresh scheme, and with an improved pass rush expected during the 2020 season, the pickoff dearth could change. Despite the fact that their All-Pro cornerback in Byron Jones left in free agency, we could see another CB step up. 

If there is a corner who can elevate the art of the interception in the Dallas secondary, it might just be second-rounder Trevon Diggs. He was forged in the football factory at Alabama, after all, where he contested the SEC’s best each Saturday. 

The converted wide receiver plays the ball much like a wideout. He believes that when the ball is in the air, it belongs to him. When you watch him attack the ball he looks like his brother Stefon Diggs, a WR for Buffalo. 

Diggs also already appears as a starter on the depth chart after a solid first camp so he should get plenty of opportunities. Look for Diggs to come down with four picks – the most for a Dallas DB in one season since Terence Newman snagged four in 2011 – to lead the Cowboys in 2020. 

Do you agree with these predictions? Share your thoughts or your own Cowboys takes with Patrick on Twitter @PatSportsGuy.