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ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 26: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys runs for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first half at AT&T Stadium on December 26, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Ezekiel Elliott Practicing For Opener Vs. Giants After Suspension Is Upheld

Ezkiel Elliott attended the Dallas Cowboys’ practice on Wednesday in preparation for the team’s regular season opener against the New York Giants in Arlington on Sunday night.

Ezekiel Elliott Suspension News

The second-year-running back’s six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy was upheld by NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson on Tuesday night. However, given the timing of the decision, 22-year-old Elliott will be allowed to play on Sunday.

A U.S. District Court judge will make a ruling Friday on the injunction Elliott is seeking to avoid discipline from the league for his involvement in a domestic violence incident with his ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson in July 2016.

“He seems very focused, locked in on meetings, the walk-through,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ll have a good practice today. He’s done an excellent job in his preparation.”

Garrett and Elliott did not speak immediately after Henderson’s decision but did speak Wednesday morning.

The Cowboys stated that they had planned for both scenarios (whether Elliott would be permitted to play or not). The team said it was prepared to start with just running backs Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and Rod Smith should Elliott be prohibited from playing.

“I think the biggest thing for all of us is to focus on what we need to do each and every day,” Garrett said. “That’s been a point that we’ve tried to emphasize to our team for a long, long time. Our team understands the importance of that. in order to be your best, you’ve got to focus on yourself and what you need to do in your preparation to play your best football. So that’s really where our focus is. We don’t spend a lot of time on other stuff.”

Henderson’s decision comes after last week’s three-day appeal hearing that included sworn testimony from Elliott regarding domestic violence accusations made against him last year.

In an effort to uphold the suspension, the NFL filed a complaint against the NFLPA on Tuesday night in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking confirmation and enforcement of the arbitration decision. In its filing, the league states both the NFL and NFL Players Association are legally bound to arbitration decisions under the collective bargaining agreement.

In his decision, Henderson wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rightfully acted within his “broad discretion” under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement “to decide the process for taking action against a player for conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence” in the league.

On Monday, the NFL dismissed a petition the NFLPA filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas last week to void Elliott’s suspension. The league claimed the union’s motion was premature because Henderson had not yet made his final decision at that point. The NFLPA’s request alleges the Henderson-led appeal process has “deprived the union and Elliott of fundamental fairness” by hiding crucial information from the running back that could have been used to exonerate him. The NFLPA’s request also maintains the league’s lead investigator in Elliott’s case Kia Roberts did not find sufficient corroborating evidence to punish the running back, and that Roberts also determined the woman who accused Elliott wasn’t credible.

Elliott was never formally charged and has denied wrongdoing. He attended Tuesday’s court hearing at Paul Brown District Court in Sherman, Texas, roughly 50 miles away from the team practice facility in Frisco.

ARLINGTON, TX – DECEMBER 26: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys runs for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first half at AT&T Stadium on December 26, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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Written by Pablo Mena