Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott shocked by speed of the NFL

The Dallas Cowboys won 12 games in 2014 -- eight more than they won last season. Certainly, a big reason for that was the health of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick, but it also had to do with the success of DeMarco Murray and the run game.

As a result, the Cowboys are making a concerted effort to replicate the ground-and-pound offense they had two years ago, beginning with rookie Ezekiel Elliott. The fourth overall pick figures to be the starter in 2016, beating out Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden, but the coaching staff isn't going to hand him the job.

"He's going to compete," running back coach Gary Brown said. "Zeke has to earn it. I think that's the best thing for our team and for those guys going forward."

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It's obviously still very early in the offseason and Elliott has only had a few practices with the Cowboys, but he's going to win the starting gig. That's a foregone conclusion, but it will come after some adjustments are made by the rookie.

He admits he was a bit stunned by the speed of the NFL game compared to his days at Ohio State.

"It's a lot faster pace," Elliott said. "The game moves so much faster. Yesterday, I'm not going to lie, I was a little bit shell-shocked. But today I came out. I was a little bit more prepared and was more ready mentally so it was a little bit easier for me."

As far as competition goes, it's no surprise to hear Elliott is relishing the chance to battle it out in camp. He's happy to go at it with McFadden and Morris as the three compete for the lead role.

"It's definitely better to have the competition," Elliott said. "It keeps you on your toes and makes sure you get your work done. The competition makes you better."