Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters Thursday night he has accepted that running back Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout will stretch into the regular season.

“I’m operating as though right now he’s going to miss regular-season games,” Jones said. “My entire expectation for what we’re putting together as a team right now would anticipate with him holding out … that he’s going to miss games. I just accept that.”

Asked if Elliott’s potential absence would change expectations for the team this season, Jones replied, “No. He can’t, and won’t, miss them all. We need Zeke. We’re a better team with Zeke.”

Elliott, 24, is holding out in search of a new contract, though he has two years remaining on his rookie deal. Recent reports said Dallas offered Elliott a deal that would make him the second-highest paid running back in the league behind Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams.

Jones said Wednesday on 105.3 FM The Fan that the team is focused on having Elliott on the field when the games count the most.

“We’ve got a marathon here,” Jones said. “We want Zeke when we get to the playoffs. We want Zeke when we’re in the dog days of the season.”

The Cowboys open the regular season Sept. 8 against the New York Giants.