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The Dallas Cowboys will have to learn what life is like without running back Ezekiel Elliott.

U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Failla declined Elliott’s request for a preliminary injunction on Monday that would have prevented the NFL’s six-game suspension for violating the personal conduct policy, which means he will be placed on the suspended list. Pending the results of an appeal, Elliott will not be able to return until Dec. 17 against the Oakland Raiders.

A Cowboys’ season that started to look and feel a lot like 2016 with the way Elliott had run the ball the past three games, may now become unpredictable.

The Cowboys have expressed faith in Elliott’s replacements: Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith. But none can do what Elliott can. The Cowboys hope three of them can combine to replace Elliott’s production.

While the news is disappointing, it’s not as if the Cowboys were unprepared for the possibility.

“The way we’ve constructed our roster has taken his situation into account. We have some veteran running backs,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We have some depth at that position. It’s not like we’re just living this day and we don’t think about the future at all. You have to do that. I think you build your team that way at all positions. If this guy is not able to play, who’s your backup? Who can go in? We try to do that with our offensive line, receivers, running backs, all throughout our defense. That’s the way you construct your team, and you’re always thinking about those scenarios. We’ll take it one day at a time and we’ll see what his situation is. Regardless, we’re going to go forward and try to play our best football.”

Morris has three 1,000-yard seasons to his credit but his last came in 2014. McFadden was fourth in the NFL in rushing in 2015 with the Cowboys, but he has been inactive for every game this season. Smith has shown some promise but has 74 yards rushing in his career.

If the Cowboys are to continue to succeed with the running game without Elliott, then it will be because of their offensive line.

Elliott had a difficult start to the season, although it wasn’t just him. The entire ground game was out of whack. Where there were creases a year ago, the Cowboys found defenders. Where there were big plays a year ago, the Cowboys found negative runs.

But in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 8, it all changed. Elliott ran 13 times for 85 yards in the fourth quarter. Coming off the bye week, he ran 26 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers. He added two more touchdowns against the Redskins on Sunday despite Washington using eight- and nine-man fronts.

“We’re executing better,” All-Pro right guard Zack Martin said. “That’s really all that there is to it. We’re sticking on blocks and Zeke is running extremely hard.”

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When the Dallas Cowboys are at their best, they like to say they play complementary football in which all three phases contribute.

Sunday’s 33-19 win against the Washington Redskins was the perfect example.

Ezekiel Elliott finished with 150 yards on a career-high 33 carries and had two more rushing touchdowns as the Cowboys’ offensive line controlled the tempo so well Dak Prescott did not need to do much with his arm (143 passing yards).

After giving up points on their first three drives, the Cowboys’ defense was able to sack Kirk Cousins four times, including one in the third quarter by DeMarcus Lawrence to give him 10.5 on the season and at least one sack in the first seven games. They also limited Washington to 49 rushing yards.

But it was a special teams’ play that changed the tenor of the game.

Staring at a 16-7 deficit late in the second quarter, Tyrone Crawford blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt by Nick Rose. Orlando Scandrick returned the block 90 yards to the Washington 4-yard line. Two plays later, Elliott had his second rushing touchdown of the game for a 14-13 lead.

It was the first of three fumble by the Redskins that let the Cowboys slowly take control of the game.

On the sixth play of the second half, Crawford sacked Cousins and forced a fumble that Lawrence recovered. The Cowboys were able to turn that into the first of four second-half field goals by Mike Nugent, their new kicker, filling in for Dan Bailey.

On the ensuing kickoff, Keith Smith forced a fumble on returner Chris Thompson that Bene Benwikere recovered. The Cowboys turned that into a 48-yard field goal and a 20-13 lead.

The lead grew to 26-13 before Washington made it interesting with a touchdown with 4:35 to play but then the Cowboys simply wore down the Redskins’ defense with more Elliott and a key third-down conversion from Dez Bryant to chew up more than three minutes.

It was fitting the Cowboys ended the threat of a Washington comeback when Byron Jones intercepted a Cousins’ pass that was deflected by David Irving and returned it for a touchdown. The last time the Cowboys had an interception return for a touchdown was Rolando McClain in 2015.

That was complementary football at its best.

“When you look at us last year when we went on the run, there was great complementary football,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “We were helping each other, being able to get stops and turnovers for the offense and playing well together. That’s something we have to continue to do going forward. We’ve done a better job these last two weeks.”

For the first time this season, the Cowboys have won back-to-back games and, most important, they were able to stay within shot of the 7-1 Philadelphia Eagles with their second NFC East win of the season.

Later this week, the Cowboys could learn if they will have Elliott for the rest of the season, pending his preliminary injunction hearing in New York on Monday.

If they don’t have their leading rusher for six games, either starting this week against the Kansas City Chiefs or the following week at the Atlanta Falcons, they at least can point to this formula for success.

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With one more touchdown catch, Dez Bryant will break Bob Hayes’ record for the most in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.

Bryant’s focus will not be on the record Sunday when the Cowboys take on the Washington Redskins.

“You don’t want to be thinking about that. That will take away from everything you’ve been trying to do or working on,” Bryant said. “You’ve got to let that stuff come to you. That’s what I’m going to do. If it comes, it comes. If it don’t, it don’t. It eventually will come.”

Bryant and Hayes, the Hall of Famer, are tied at 71 touchdown catches. In 12 games against the Redskins, Bryant has seven touchdowns.

Hayes was nicknamed “The World’s Fastest Human,” after winning two gold medals in 100 and 4×100 relay in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The next year, he joined the Cowboys and went on to earn three Pro Bowl appearances while putting up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 1965-66. He caught 71 touchdown passes in 128 games.

Because of his speed, defenses introduced zone defenses.

“I know who exactly Bob Hayes is,” Bryant said. “He changed the game. Fast guy. Super-fast guy.”

When Bryant tied Hayes with a 2-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter of the 40-10 win against the San Francisco 49ers, he said he was unaware he was that close to the mark.

“I’m just being honest, it’ll be cool but try to put a bigger stamp on it if that makes sense,” Bryant said. “I’m not thinking about it. I’m just trying to go. I want to score as many touchdowns as I possibly can, and that’s just my attitude. I don’t have anything to do with the record. I think I’m a scoring machine. I always felt that way since high school. That’s how I roll.”

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Last week, the Dallas Cowboys made Cooper Rush the backup quarterback to Dak Prescott over Kellen Moore for the first time. On Thursday, the Cowboys released Moore in order to call up tight end Blake Jarwin from the practice squad.

Moore, who does not have to clear waivers, is eligible to return to the Cowboys’ practice squad.

The Philadelphia Eagles wanted to sign Jarwin to their 53-man roster, but the Cowboys did not want to lose him so they added him to their active roster. Jarwin signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent and caught four passes for 31 yards in the preseason.

The Cowboys now have four tight ends on the active roster with Jason Witten, James Hanna, Geoff Swaim and Jarwin. Rico Gathers has been eligible to practice the past two weeks, but he remains on injured reserve with a concussion he suffered in training camp. Gathers has been working out with the team’s strength and conditioning staff for the past few weeks.

Rush, an undrafted free agent, excelled in the preseason with six touchdown passes and no interceptions, forcing the Cowboys to initially release Moore on the cutdown to 53 players and bring him back a day later. He saw action in the fourth quarter of last week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, completing 1-of-1 passes for 2 yards. He also had a 15-yard run.

“We all saw the progress he made in training camp and felt like it was a work in progress,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “When you’ve got a young quarterback, regardless of what round he was drafted, you’d like to, if you have that chance, to have a progression of teaching. It was good for him in the first five games to be able to see a pro’s pro like Kellen prepare in that backup position and see how that really works, because it’s really different. In college, you probably get a lot more reps potentially than you would just because of the number of plays you run. … Here it’s maybe two or three a week with the first group, if any. You’re getting your reps as a show-team guy.”

Moore will not pass through waivers and will be free to sign anywhere else. There is a chance he will be brought back to the Cowboys’ practice squad.

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The Dallas Cowboys are hoping less means more for linebacker Jaylon Smith.

With Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens healthy together for the first time this season, Smith saw his snaps go down, playing 32 of 75 plays against the San Francisco 49ers. In the first five games of the season, Smith played at least 64 percent of the snaps in each game, including every snap (69) in the loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Against the 49ers, Smith was credited by the coaches with seven tackles, and he had the first sack of his career, which also led to a forced fumble.

“Just physical play,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He was around the ball, getting off blocks, making hits on the runner. He played with a great spirit, too.”

Smith said it was “different” to not play as much, but the Cowboys’ plan for him all along was to move him along slowly after he missed his rookie season with a serious knee injury that included nerve damage that left him with a case of drop foot. While the nerve regeneration has been better than some thought it could be, he was still dealing with a long layoff from football.

Without Hitchens for the first four games because of a tibial plateau fracture and Lee missing two games with a hamstring strain, the Cowboys had to lean on Smith more than they wanted.

“Attacking a new role,” Smith said. “But my job is whenever I get in to make a difference and make a play, be very impactful to our defense. And it’s something that I’m accepting.”

Smith rotated with Hitchens at different times against San Francisco. The Cowboys took Lee out of the game in the fourth quarter because of a quadriceps bruise, but they don’t believe it will affect his availability for Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

“It’s a great feeling when you get a chance to learn behind some guys who’ve been in those situations and did well,” Smith said. “And it’s something that I add a little piece to it as well, being able to contribute at a high level.”

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With Dan Bailey expected to miss time with a groin injury, the Dallas Cowboys will sign veteran kicker Mike Nugent after he won a competition with Jason Myers and Sam Irwin-Hill on Tuesday.

Coach Jason Garrett would not put a timetable on Bailey’s return but said he would miss “at least a couple of weeks” with the injury that occurred while warming up on the sidelines during a drive. The Cowboys had safety Jeff Heath take over the kicking duties and he made two of three point-after attempts.

Nugent, 34, lost a training-camp competition with Aldrick Rosas to be the New York Giants kicker this summer. In his career with the Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets, he has made 236 of 292 career field goal attempts.

“You want a guy who is reliable. It’s really important at that position you have a guy you can trust and count on. You want that throughout your whole team at every position but that’s a very valuable position,” Garrett said on Monday. “You’re going to put the fortunes of your team in that guy’s hands, or on his foot, and you want a guy you can trust and rely on. Experience matters, but you don’t want to make it all about that. You want to choose the best guy. But reliability and how much you can trust them is certainly a big factor.”

Bailey is the most accurate kicker in NFL history, making 178 of 198 field goal attempts in his career. He had not missed a game since signing with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2011 — until now.

Three of the Cowboys’ next four games will be in climate-controlled stadiums with retractable roofs (two at AT&T Stadium and one at Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium), which make for easier kicking conditions. The Cowboys play at FedEx Field on Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

To make room for Nugent on the roster, the Dallas Cowboys waived defensive end Damontre Moore. Moore was inactive last week. In three games coaches credited him with seven tackles and four quarterback hurries.W

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The Dallas Cowboys will be without kicker Dan Bailey for “weeks” because of a groin strain in his kicking leg, according to a source.

Bailey suffered the injury while kicking into the net during Sunday’s 40-10 win against the San Francisco 49ers. Safety Jeff Heath took over the kicking duties for the rest of the game, making 2-of-3 point-after attempts.

Speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Monday, executive vice president Stephen Jones all but ruled out Bailey from next week’s game against the Washington Redskins, saying, “This could be more than a week at a time.”

According to ESPN Insider Field Yates, the Cowboys will work out Mike Nugent, Jason Myers and Sam Irwin-Hill.

Bailey, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, has made all seven of his field goal attempts and all 16 extra points.

Nugent, who was beat out by Aldrick Rosas for the New York Giants this summer, has the most experience. In 12 seasons, including seven with the Cincinnati Bengals, Nugent has made 236 of 292 field goals (80.8 percent).

Myers was released last week by the Jacksonville Jaguars after missing four of 15 attempts this season, including two against the Los Angeles Rams. He had been Jacksonville’s kicker since 2015.

Irwin-Hill went to training camp with the Cowboys and was among their final cuts. He made all seven point-after attempts and made 2-of-3 field goal tries. He has yet to kick in a regular-season game in his career.

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Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey exited Sunday’s 40-10 win over the the San Francisco 49ers because of a right groin injury, leaving the kicking duties to safety Jeff Heath.

Bailey appeared to aggravate the injury in a first-quarter kickoff return. After Jason Witten’s one-handed touchdown catch, the Cowboys went for a two-point conversion that failed, leaving them with a 20-3 lead in the second quarter.

“We’ll see how [Bailey] is tomorrow and we’ll make some decisions accordingly,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.

Heath handled the kickoff after Witten’s touchdown and sent the ball to the San Francisco goal line. He later kicked the extra point after Ezekiel Elliott’s 72-yard touchdown catch.

Heath said it was playing kicker “was the most fun I had playing football in a long time.”

“I knew he was going to nail it, we’ve seen it before,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said. “He’s done it at practice we had him ready for an emergency in time so we all were excited I think that just brought another energy boost to our sideline.”

Heath was a kicker in high school and helped end a training camp practice this summer in Oxnard, California, with a field goal. Later in the second quarter, though, Heath was forced from the game briefly because of a left ankle injury that required extra taping.

Heath finished the day by converting two of three extra-point attempts — and six tackles.

“At halftime we worked with him and we felt more comfortable that we could try and execute those and I think for the most part he did a really good job, that’s not an easy thing to do obviously,” Garrett said of Heath.

Bailey, the NFL’s all-time most accurate kicker, has not enjoyed his two trips to Levi’s Stadium. He was bothered by back spasms when the Cowboys played here last year and missed one field goal attempt.

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Five games into the season, DeMarcus Lawrence has a career-high 8.5 sacks, which leads the NFL.

He’s picked the right time to have his best season, considering he is to be a free agent in 2018, but he is not worried about contract talks at the moment.

“We’ll talk about that when the time comes,” Lawrence said. “I ain’t in no rush. I’ll just keep racking up my numbers and we just have to get the job done as a team. If the team wins, we all win. That’s the main thing.”

Lawrence is looking at potentially being one of the most sought-after free agents on the open market. He doesn’t turn 26 until next April, however, he has had two back surgeries in the past two years. The Cowboys could put the franchise or transition tag on him to keep him off the market next March. They have a history of re-signing their own players before they can test free agency, but as of now there have not been meaningful discussions.

“I’d love to be a Cowboy for the rest of my life,” Lawrence said. “Like I said, that contract talk, I ain’t worried about that. I’m worried about getting my job done and making sure we come out with the W.”

Lawrence had eight sacks in 2015. He had just one sack in nine games last season because of a four-game suspension to start the season and a back that required another surgery. He is healthy now and the proof is in his production.

He is looking at becoming the first Cowboys pass-rusher with double-digit sacks since Jason Hatcher had 11 in 2013. Hatcher left the Cowboys for a free-agent deal with the Washington Redskins after that season.

“Nothing changes at all,” Lawrence said of his expectations. “It’s still the same tempo, same mindset. You just can’t want to be great for five games. You’ve got to want to be great for the rest of your life. That’s what coach preaches. We can be a helluva defense and a helluva D-line, but it’s not just one of us. It’s on all of us. I know I’m not going to let my guys down, trying to be selfish or going out thinking sacks.”

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The goal coming into the season for the Dallas Cowboys’ defense was to create 40 takeaways.

Never mind that no team has reached that figure since 2012 when the Chicago Bears (44) and New England Patriots (41); the Cowboys were aiming high.

Through five games, they have three takeaways, putting them on pace for 10 on the season.

“The biggest thing we want to do is just keep focusing on what we need to do to get those takeaways and how we can coach it better, how we can execute it better,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We focus on that each and every day, and obviously takeaways are a big part of being a successful defense. We’ve done a good job of that in the past, and it really helps our football team. Obviously, by nature you’re eliminating an opportunity for one of their eight, 10, 12 drives in the game. You’re taking one of them away, and you’re giving your offense hopefully a favorable opportunity. We place a great premium on that, and we’ll continue try to do better at it.”

During the portion of practice open to the media on Thursday, defensive backs and linebackers went through drills designed to simulate interceptions and forcing fumbles.

But what if all the drills in the world don’t lead to more takeaways?

“You can continue to coach it differently in practice, you can address it in the meeting room with tape, you can give other guys opportunities to do some of the things the guys on the field at the time aren’t doing,” Garrett said. “You evaluate everything. How you coach, how you play and we’re going to continue to place a premium on it because it makes a big difference in winning and losing in this league, and it has for a long time.”

The Cowboys’ defense has gone 213 snaps without a takeaway. Late in the third quarter of their 42-17 loss to the Denver Broncos, rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis intercepted Trevor Siemian. There have been 213 offensive plays since that takeaway by the Cowboys’ opponents without a turnover.

“Can’t think of it now,” Lewis said. “Just got to try and go get them right now.”

“It’s one of our main points,” safety Byron Jones said. “It’s hard to win the old-fashioned way and just play good defense the entire time. You’ve got to take the ball away. You’ve got to make a splash play.”

The Cowboys have had what defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli calls “missed opps,” but not even enough of those. They missed a chance at a fumble by Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff after a DeMarcus Lawrence sack. They have had a couple of potential interceptions fall incomplete.

“Once one comes, you hope there is more to come, that there’s more to follow,” Jones said. “But we’ve got to get one first. We’ve got to get one.”