Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott talks loss of Zack Martin: ‘Zack’s our best player on offense’

The Dallas Cowboys are going to be without Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin for Thursday’s season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a positive COVID-19 test.

Reports surfaced earlier on Sunday that Martin, who is vaccinated, tested positive for the virus and has already been ruled out for Week 1.

To say that this is bad news for the Dallas Cowboys would be a major understatement. They dealt with a plethora of injuries a long the offensive line during a disastrous six-win 2020 campaign. Mike McCarthy and Co. need this unit to gel immediately in order to move forward with Dak Prescott under center.

After news of Martin’s positive test broke, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had a rather interesting take.

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“Zack’s our best player on our offense. I mean most runs, they coming back behind him. It’s disappointing but you can’t harp on it, can’t let it be more than what it is,” Elliott told ESPN’s Todd Archer. “I mean, definitely going to miss him, definitely wish he was out there, but we still have a game to go play and we got to try and get the job done.”

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Impact of Zack Martin’s injury on the Dallas Cowboys

dallas cowboys zack martin, ezekiel elliott
Oct 1, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs off tackle behind Zack Martin (70) against the Los Angeles Rams at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to disagree with Zeke’s stance. Martin, 30, missed six games to injury a season ago after having started all but two games throughout his first six NFL seasons. It had a major impact on Dallas’ ground attack. Just look at Elliott’s splits in the 10 games Martin played and the five games he missed with the running back in action.

  • With Zack Martin: 767 yards, 4.5 yards per attempt
  • Without Zack Martin: 212 yards, 2.8 yards per attempt

Set to take on a Buccaneers defense that finished No. 1 in the NFL against the run while yielding the fewest yards per attempt, this is no small thing.

It also must be noted that Prescott is playing in his first live-game action since Week 5 of the 2020 season. The Dallas Cowboys can’t necessarily rely on him to do too much given that there’s going to be a lot of rust.