"I'm operating as though right now he's going to miss regular-season games," Jones told reporters Thursday. "My entire expectation for what we're putting together as a team right now would anticipate with him holding out and not having any training camp that he's going to miss games. I just accept that."
Elliott, 24, led had a league-high 1,434 rushing yards last season, earning his second NFL rushing title in three seasons. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft participated in the team's offseason program before skipping training camp and the preseason while negotiating for a new contract. Elliott has two years remaining on his rookie pact.
The Cowboys signed defenders Demarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith to contract extensions, but are still negotiating with quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper, in addition to Elliott. Cooper and Prescott are playing on the final season's of their current contracts.
Prescott and Cooper participated in training camp and the preseason. The Cowboys offered Elliott a contract before training camp. The deal would make Elliott the second-highest paid running back in the NFL.
Elliott is facing more than $1 million in fines for skipping training camp. He could owe the team more than $2 million if he sits out for multiple regular season games in 2019.
"[Elliott] can't, and won't miss them all," Jones said. "We need Zeke. We're a better team with Zeke."
Tony Pollard got the bulk of the first-team running back reps in Elliott's absence. He is expected to be the Cowboys' starter if Elliott in unavailable in Week 1.
Dallas begins the regular season against the New York Giants at 4:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.