The New York Giants know stopping Ezekiel Elliott is essential for victory in Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

“Zeke’s the guy,” safety and defensive co-captain Landon Collins said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s the guy.”

Dallas, like the Giants, lost their regular season opener. Their offense is in a state of transition with the release of wide receiver Dez Bryant and retirement of tight end Jason Witten. The Cowboys’ offense ran through Elliott in his first two NFL seasons as an alternative to quarterback Dak Prescott trying to win games through the air.

Without Bryant and Witten, the Cowboys offense will be more dependent on Elliott.

“It’s a totally different offense,” Collins said. “Dez made his presence known, without Witten, that was their go-to. Tony Romo, Dak, that was their go-to. Now, without Witten, it’s like, who do they go to? Dak’s looking to Zeke more than he’s looking for any receivers downfield.”

Elliott has run for 2,683 yards and 23 touchdowns in 26 career NFL games. He had 69 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in the Cowboys’ 16-8 Week 1 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Collins believes fans who don’t watch Sunday’s game will be able to tell whether or not the Giants win by Elliott’s stat line.

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“We just really have to focus on stopping Zeke,” Collins said. “We have to focus on every run-gap, play our gap assignments, make sure we close the air out of their offensive running game. If we do that, and put the ball into Dak’s hands, I think we have a better shot at winning.”

The Giants lost 20-15 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1. Jacksonville had the services of Leonard Fournette. The Giants played a high number of snaps in single-high safety coverage with Collins near the line of scrimmage and Michael Thomas out deep. Fournette had 41 yards on nine carries before he left in the second quarter with an injury. Fournette’s replacement, T.J. Yeldon, didn’t fare much better with 51 yards on 14 carries.

The Giants should play Elliott the same way they played Fournette and Yeldon.

“It’s about making sure we disguise well,” Collins said. “Our rotation, and their gap-schemes, to get them out of whack with that. We have to get our linebackers free to shoot the gap which comes down to our linemen getting pressure, and getting off those blocks a little bit quicker.”

The Giants have had some success keeping Elliott in check. In three career games against the Giants, he has 262 yards on 68 carries with one touchdown. Elliott averages 3.85 yards per carry against the Giants. Against the rest of the league, he averages 4.73 yards per carry.

– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.

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