COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) – Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott have been close friends since arriving as freshmen at Ohio State in 2013 Timeline.
Bosa and the Los Angeles Chargers play for the first time in front of fans at their palatial Inglewood, California home when they greet Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys.
The Chargers won their opener for the third time in a row and aim to go 2-0 for the first time in nine years while the Cowboys try to avoid their first 0-2 start in 11 years.
This is the first time Elliott and Bosa face each other in the NFL. Elliott was serving an NFL suspension the last time the two teams met on Thanksgiving Day in 2017.
“It will be great. The last time we played against each other was in training (in preparation for the Fiesta Bowl 2016) and we didn’t take it easy then, so I’m sure we won’t be this weekend, ”said Bosa. “We came a long way from dorm rooms in 2013 so it will be cool to be out there with him.”
Bosa and Elliott were roommates for their first two years at Ohio State, including the 2014 national championship season. Elliott said they got to hang out in Dallas for some time during the off-season.
“Man, this is my brother,” said Elliott. “I mean, we’ve been through a lot together. I mean come in, young, 17, grow up. Basically we came to this campus together and won a national championship here in Dallas, so it was just fun.
“I think we were both messy. We’re both Big Mama boys, so we weren’t the best cleaning ladies. We both let our mother do our laundry on the weekend when she came into town to play. “
Both were drafted in 2016 when Bosa finished third overall for the Chargers and Elliott was picked one place later by the Cowboys. Both of these also have a major impact on the league.
Bosa’s 48 1/2 sacks in the past five-plus seasons rank seventh in the league. His five-year contract extension last July also made him the highest-paid defensive player in the league until Pittsburgh’s TJ Watt was dwarfed last week.
Elliott won the league rushing title in two of his first three seasons, and his 8,341 scrimmage yards in his first five years were the eighth highest in league history.
Both players have a lot to prove even after the opening games.
Elliott only had 33 yards from 11 carries in last week’s 31-29 loss at Tampa Bay and spent most of his time in pass protection. Elliott asked many questions about his lack of workload against the league’s top rush defense and was frustrated with the tone.
“If you know football and you are in this building, you can say that someone can have a solid game without having the best stats,” said Elliott. “If you say that, you should probably study a little more.”
Bosa and Chargers trainer Brandon Staley expects Elliott to see more action against them. Los Angeles allowed 4.7 yards per carry and 126 yards against Washington.
Staley met Elliott last season when he was Ram’s defensive coordinator. Elliott scored two touchdowns, including a reception, and scored both Dallas touchdowns in a 20-17 loss.
“My eyes tell me this guy is in the top two to five in this league. When I played him last year, the unique thing was that I could hear everything last year. There wasn’t a crowd so I could hear the sound of every tackle, ”Staley said. “I remember going home and watching the TV copy with my wife. It was late, but she stayed up and we watched. You could hear it; you could hear the pads pop. He’s a physical guy. I still think it’s a premium back. “
Bosa had a sack and two quarterback hits in the 20-16 win over Washington last week. He also had a 60 percent win rate on defeating an offensive lineman in push rushes, which, according to Zebra Technologies, was the top edge defender.
But Bosa also had some harsh punishments and said he needed more clarification; he thought he had done no wrong.
“It has a lot of length. Just an excellent player, great understanding, they move him around, they are a multiple defensive front football team so we have to be really good at locating him and knowing where he is at all times, ”said Cowboys- Trainer Mike McCarthy.
Bosa said the biggest concern for the Chargers and the line of defense is keeping quarterback Dak Prescott from escaping and making sure everyone is solid with their technique.
“Of course they have some weapons, but I think if you neutralize Dak he won’t be able to get the ball to those weapons,” Bosa said. “It starts with the fact that we are at the forefront, not taking these high rushers and opening up these large gaps and simply being able to rustle in the sound as a group.”
AP Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon helped.
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