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Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott primed for playoff debuts

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) takes

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) takes the handoff from quarterback Dak Prescott (4) during an indoor NFL football practice at the team's headquarters in Frisco, Texas, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. The Cowboys face the Green Bay Packers in the NFL playoffs this Sunday. Credit: AP / LM Otero

Ezekiel Elliott was involved in a minor car accident on his way to Cowboys practice on Wednesday morning.

“I’m fine. I’m healthy. I’m good,” the rookie running back said after participating in practice that day. “It’s like nothing happened.”

Elliott is bringing the same attitude with him into the playoffs. He and Dak Prescott, the Cowboys’ two rookie sensations on offense, both downplayed any extra pressure, excitement or nerves that could be bubbling up as they prepare to make their postseason debuts against the Packers in an NFC divisional game on Sunday.

He’s fine. He’s good. It’ll be like nothing happened.

“I’m just excited to get back on the field,” said Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing but has not played since Week 16 of the regular season because the Cowboys rested many of their starters in the finale. “I feel like I’ve been watching football for an eternity these past couple of weeks, so I’m just ready to get back on the field and get ready to compete . . . I just love competition. That’s me. I’m a competitor and I love going out there when its high stakes and everyone is watching. All eyes on you. That’s fun for me.”

Prescott had a similar point of view.

“It’s my first run at it, so I can’t tell you what I’m expecting,” he said. “It’s a big game, win or go home. I know the importance of that.”

But as far as him being nervous, he dismissed that possibility.

“You get nerves,” he said. “Nerves hit you. You’re not human if they don’t hit you. But it’s a difference between being nervous and having nerves to go out and play. It’s been a while since I’ve been truly nervous.”

Prescott is one of eight quarterbacks still playing football in the NFL, and the only rookie. He’s in a field that includes four Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, three of whom have been to the big game at least twice and two of whom have multiple wins. Not even that company made Prescott blink.

“I want to get where those guys are,” he said. “I want to win multiple Super Bowls in this league. It’s great going against those guys, seeing those guys on the other side, just watching them and knowing we have a good team and a team that can beat them.”

It’s been a long time since Prescott looked anything like a rookie. He burst onto the scene in the preseason opener and has barely slowed since, leading Dallas to a 13-3 record and the top seed in the NFC.

“I can’t really say that I’ve ever truly put it in my head that I’m a rookie, that I can’t do something, or [put] that stigma on myself,” he said. “I’m excited and ready to go.”

Of course, no rookie quarterback has ever even made it to the Super Bowl.

Elliott shrugged when presented with that fact.

“That’s cool,” he said. “There’s got to be a first time for everything.”

Just like a first playoff game. Elliott and Prescott have been told by veterans for the past several weeks what it will be like to play postseason football. The intensity, the speed, the stakes. They seem to be ready for it all.

“The game picks up, that’s the biggest thing,” Elliott said. “But I’m gonna pick my game up, too.”

Notes & quotes: Elliott wore a hooded sweatshirt rather than his usual cut-off jersey during practice in balmy Frisco, Texas on Wednesday. He said it was to make practice more physically demanding after not playing in a real game for almost three weeks. “All I really focused on which was important was maintaining my wind and making sure I’m in playing shape going into this next game,” Elliott said of the unusually long break. “I’ve been practicing extra hard. Had a hoodie on to make sure I get tired out there. Just getting used to getting tired out there and having to perform mentally, that’s the biggest part. But I think it’s great to feel fresh and be fresh going into this run.” . . . Dallas LT Tyron Smith (knee) and CB Morris Claiborne (groin) were both limited in Wednesday’s practice which saw all 53 active Cowboys on the field . . . Packers WR Jordy Nelson, who reportedly fractured at least two ribs on a sideline hit from Giants DB Leon Hall on Sunday, was with a rehab group during practice on Wednesday. RB James Starks and CB Quinten Rollins remain in the concussion protocol for the Packers.


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