Cowboys pumped over return of Ezekiel Elliott

— -- OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Ezekiel Elliott wait is over.

At 10 a.m. CT, Elliott will be allowed to return to the Dallas Cowboys' practice facility in Frisco, Texas, with his six-game suspension ending just hours after the Cowboys' 20-17 win against the Oakland Raiders.

While Elliott will be at The Star on Monday, however, players are off and do not return to work until Tuesday. His first practice will be Wednesday as the Cowboys get ready to play the Seattle Seahawk on Christmas Eve at AT&T Stadium.

"We get an extreme boost because that's our guy," wide receiver Dez Bryant said. "That's our horse. He gives us that extra boost of joy because of his personality and who he is. He gets guys going with his attitude and his passion and love for the game. Just seeing him back will make us play that much harder."

Elliott was suspended for six games after a legal fight kept him active for the first eight games of the season following the NFL's determination he committed domestic violence against a former girlfriend in the summer of 2016 while in Columbus, Ohio.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has defended Elliott throughout the process, which played the part in his fight against Roger Goodell's extension. Jones has criticized the league's ability to supersede the law of the land since no charges were brought against Elliott by law enforcement. The NFL announced Elliott's suspension Aug. 11, more than a year after the incidents were alleged to have occurred.

"We need him back and it's exciting to have him back. Zeke is going to energize our whole team," Jones said. "He's energy in the locker room and he's an example of the really high standard. As far as domestic violence, he's done nothing wrong as far as that is concerned. But in the NFL you don't get to play six games or four games. Zeke wants to play in the NFL. We want him to play in the NFL, so we've got to abide by that. But make no mistake about it, Zeke will be a better player and a better person coming back with the Cowboys."

In the first eight games of the season, Elliott ran for 783 yards on 191 carries and seven touchdowns. He had at least 93 yards rushing in each of his past four games, topping out at 150 yards on 33 carries and two touchdowns in a win at the Washington Redskins on Oct. 29.

The Cowboys turned to Alfred Morris and Rod Smith in Elliott's absence and prior to Sunday's game still averaged 120.4 yards per game on the ground, which would have been good enough to be ranked in the top 10.

Morris had 99 carries for 430 yards and a touchdown, including 127 yards against the Redskins. Smith had 33 carries for 153 yards and rushing touchdowns in four straight games, while adding an 81-yard catch for a touchdown against the New York Giants.

"He's a great football player," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said of Elliott. "Obviously had a big impact on our football team in the times he's been with us. But a real credit to Alfred Morris and to Rod Smith for playing as well as they have in his absence. Any time you have a player of Zeke's caliber back in the lineup, he's going to help. He's going to take some pressure off everybody else. He's just that kind of player and he's been that kind of player for us. There'll still be a role for Alfred. There'll still be a role for Rod. But we'll certainly embrace Zeke being back."

The Cowboys lost their first three games without Elliott, failing to score at least 10 points against the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Chargers. They rebounded with wins against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants before their victory Sunday against the Raiders.

At 8-6, the Cowboys remain in playoff contention but still need win their final two games and have teams ahead of them in the standings lose as well to make it back to the postseason.

"We're in the hunt, but it's not just, 'Here he comes back,'" tight end Jason Witten said. "We can never rely on that. Great player and I know he's worked hard to get himself back and handled this entire process like a pro, but the most important thing is just to be in the hunt still."