The New England Patriots are packing their bags for Arlington, Texas, for a Week 4 date with the Dallas Cowboys this weekend.
That means a meeting between running back Ezekiel Elliott and his former team. The former Cowboys first-round pick was asked Wednesday about the importance of returning to the place he once knew as his NFL home.
"I don't know what I'm necessarily expecting," Elliott said, via the Dallas Morning News' Michael Gehlken. "It's definitely going to be weird, just being in a different uniform, being in a different locker room. But I think it's going to be a good experience."
Elliott's breakup with the Cowboys after seven seasons wasn't a surprise, but that didn't lessen the blow he felt from being released by the team that once relied on him as its star runner. There's no hard feelings, of course, even if he admitted "anyone that gets released or cut, it's going to be tough mentally."
"But life is life," Elliott said. "It is what it is. It was on me to get back on the horse. You can't let negatives weigh you down. You gotta take a negative and turn it into a positive. And that's what I'm working to do."
Elliott wasn't simply cast aside by a Cowboys team more interested in going with the younger, cheaper Tony Pollard. He said Wednesday his representation did engage in some talks about returning at a lesser salary. That, of course, didn't happen, leading Elliott to a Patriots team where he shares the backfield with Rhamondre Stevenson.
So far, the going has been all right. Elliott has received a little more than a third of the carries split between him and Stevenson, outgaining Stevenson on a per-carry basis with an average of 4.4 yards per attempt (versus Stevenson's 2.9 per tote). The combination is powering the league's 14th-ranked rushing attack, leaving room for improvement.
Perhaps this is the weekend in which the Patriots witness a jump in production. Dallas ranks 25th against the run and surrendered 222 rushing yards in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals last weekend.
Regardless of the outcome, Elliott is just grateful for a new opportunity to play a part in a team's offense. Getting back on the horse has been all right.