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Ezekiel Elliott could still face discipline from NFL

The Dallas Cowboys have arguably the most high-powered quarterback-running back combo in the National Football League (NFL). But if there’s one entity that can slow them down, it’s the league offices on Park Avenue in New York City.

The NFL’s year-long investigation into domestic violence claims against Dallas’ star running back Ezekiel Elliott is still ongoing, despite the fact he was told by the investigating authorities that he was cleared of criminal charges. Elliott’s off-field troubles stem from accusations made from an Ohio woman on two separate occasions, when she claimed the former Ohio State Buckeye assaulted her in July 2016, as well as an alleged incident in February of that same year in Florida.

The former claim was investigated by the Columbus, Ohio city attorney’s office. Authorities decided after more than a month of inquiries to not pursue charges because of conflicting, inconsistent, and insufficient evidence.

Insufficient evidence apparently doesn’t matter to either Commissioner Roger Goodell or the league office, as the NFL can suspend a player even without legal charges being filed. Goodell said back in December that there’s “no timetable” in doling out any possible punishment, citing he’d like to provide fairness to the athlete in question. But according to a Friday morning report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Elliott could be in line to be suspended for the Sept. 10 opener and maybe even Dallas’ Week 2 matchup. July 24 is the team’s first practice, so there’s understandable tension and angst at the team’s facilities, The Star, in Frisco, Texas.

Naturally, Elliott has always denied any wrongdoing on his part. And if he’s hit with a suspension, expect his camp to push back against the league, since players have the right to appeal a disciplinary decision within three days of being informed.

Should Elliot miss any time, it not only adds more pressure on star quarterback Dak Prescott to avoid any sophomore slump, but also puts a cramp in the running game that is paramount in aiding any young signal caller. Sans Elliott, it leaves the Cowboys with veterans Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris as the top candidates to replace the second-year back in the starting lineup. Both are fine stopgap alternatives, but neither can do what Elliott does as a runner (1,631 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns) and receiver (32 catches for 363 yards and a touchdown).

The Cowboys meet the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos in the first two weeks of the season, making any time missed ultra cumbersome to the Cowboys and their ardent fan base.

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