Eye On the Enemy: NFC East Roundup
Once a week, we’ll take a spin around the NFC East to check in on what’s going on with the Eagles’ division rivals.
The Cowboys made Tyron Smith the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL, reports Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News:
The total value of the deal, which carries through 10 seasons, is worth $109 million with $40 million guaranteed and a $10 million signing bonus, sources said Wednesday. Smith will make $32 million in the first three years of the new contract and $97.6 million over the course of the extension, an average of $12.2 million per year.
“We have been working with Tyron for quite some time,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Tyron fully deserves it. He’s 23 years old and it may be the first 10-year deal I have ever done in football where I think the guy will be playing in the last year of his contract.”
Tony Romo talks about his back rehab and season outlook, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Where are you most limited?
“I don’t think there’s anything I’m limited by. I mean I can do everything. The difference is just how many times or how long and I think that for me that’s one thing you have to kind of get to know. It’ would be like if someone comes off an ACL or something, they have a progression that takes shape and they’ll push it and work real hard in the morning. It’s like Well can you do something in the afternoon? Well I feel like I can. Ah. You’re not quite there with that part of it yet. And you got to continue to develop until that strengthens and get sot that point. I think it’s just … there’s consistent progress that takes shape and you have to adjust to what your body tells you.”
Do feel like your old self?
“Well you’re never going to…I mean after back surgery or like after any surgery you’re always going to have to work hard at that. I’ll have to, Not everyone knows but once you have back surgery you kind of have to change the way you do things. You have to constantly work on your glutes, your hamstrings, your abs and strengthen everything around that area and so life will be different after that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do the things that it takes to be successful on the field or whatever you want to do. There’s been plenty of people who’ve done it. You just got to go do it. It just takes work.”
Tight ends coach Mike Pope has many unusual drills, writes Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com:
Like throwing ice water at shirtless tight ends, wearing a helmet? Like having the tight ends wearing swim goggles to cut down on their peripheral vision? Like having tight ends attempt to catch passes with a bag over their helmets? Like having tight ends catch a pass, draped over another tight end while a third tight end is holding down his feet? Like having the tight ends do a duck walk with a medicine ball? Like having the tight ends toss a ball in the air, turn and catch a pass from Pope and then catch the ball they tossed in the air?
Who thinks of this stuff? Pope does. He said he has no interests outside of football.
“No, I don’t take credit for them,” said Pope, who joined the Cowboys’ staff in the offseason. “You see something in the game and say, ‘How can I make a drill out of that?’ A lot of them are things like end zone drills and you just see something happen and a player has to do something out of the extraordinary to make a catch, make a play. How does he do it? He’s off balance, he’s on one foot somebody has got him by the shirt. He’s trying to run and he can’t run. You just see those in the game and then you just come out here and put them together. It’s not that hard.”
NEW YORK GIANTS
Giants running back David Wilson has insisted on Twitter that he’s fine and that his surgically repaired neck is not a concern, even after a Tuesday injury led to a series of medical tests. But at the moment, the Giants aren’t feeling as good about the situation.
According to a source, the franchise is worried that Wilson’s season might be in jeopardy after the “burner” he suffered in Tuesday’s non-contact practice. The team has already shut him down for the week, ruling him out of Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton against the Buffalo Bills. But it’s increasingly possible that Wilson will be held out even longer as the Giants approach his return from January neck surgery with even greater caution.
“We handle it with extreme caution,” general manager Jerry Reese said on ESPN New York Radio on Thursday. “That’s how anybody should handle it with a neck injury.
The biggest questions for the Giants isn’t their scheme, it’s their talent, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com:
Where does the Giants’ running back group rank in the NFC East? Even if you assume David Wilson can stay healthy (and everyone’s holding their breath on that after Tuesday), you can’t rank them any better than third. Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy/Darren Sproles group is a clear No. 1, followed by Alfred Morris/Roy Helu in Washington. You can argue Rashad Jennings vs. DeMarco Murray, but you could argue it either way. The Giants’ running back corps is either third- or fourth-best in the NFC East.
Wide receivers? Again, can’t give them anything better than a No. 3 ranking in the division. I think Victor Cruz is fantastic, but he doesn’t have enough help for anyone to consider ranking him with Washington’s terrifying Pierre Garcon/DeSean Jackson/Andre Roberts trio. Cruz isn’t as good as Dallas’ Dez Bryant, and Terrance Williams has shown more as a No. 2 receiver than anyone else on the Giants has. So it’s down to the Giants and Eagles for the No. 3 spot, and if you want to pick the Giants because Cruz is better than Jeremy Maclin or Riley Cooper, you’re welcome to do so. Maclin’s coming off injury, and Cooper is no sure thing to repeat 2013. But you’d like to see something out of Rueben Randle or Odell Beckham Jr. to help your argument.
Paul Schwartz and Steve Serby of the New York Post rank the 10 greatest Giants:
7. Michael Strahan – Holder of Giants sack record (141.5) was one of the finest two-way defensive ends of his generation.
8. Andy Robustelli – Defensive stalwart who knew his way around winning. Played in eight NFL championship games, missed one game in 14-year career.
9. Eli Manning – Only quarterback in Giants history to win two Super Bowls, and he was named MVP in both.
The Redskins think Jordan Reed is a “special talent,” John Keim of ESPN.com notes:
“He’s always been a natural route runner,” Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay said. “He just gets it. You don’t have to overcoach him. He just naturally separates.”
Fellow tight end Logan Paulsen said Reed can sense what the defender is anticipating and adjust accordingly. Reed is athletic; he’s one of the Redskins’ top basketball players with a killer crossover move that he has adapted to football.
“The way he can move his body and be in total control all the time is really special,” Paulsen said. “He does a lot of things that receivers can’t do and that will make him so special for a long time. I have never seen anyone run routes the way he runs them. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say that. He’s a special talent. He’s just wired in an explosive athletic way. You see a guy cross somebody up in basketball; he has that move. Even though you know it’s coming he still gets guys to bite. It’s incredible.”
Jason Hatcher is the key to the Redskins’ defense so he shouldn’t play in the preseason, says Jason Reid of the Washington Post:
Hatcher is the linchpin of President and General Manager Bruce Allen’s plan to improve a defense that has been among the NFL’s worst the past two seasons. After luring Hatcher from the NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys, the Redskins are banking heavily on him to bolster the pass rush and, in turn, benefit their porous secondary. Why risk their investment — a guaranteed $10.5 million this season — by playing him in meaningless games?
The preseason provides a chunk of the NFL’s massive profits and is vital in helping decision-makers evaluate young players hoping to gain a foothold in the league and established ones trying maintain their standing. Ideally, Hatcher would have lined up with the first-team defense from the outset of camp. Familiarity often helps build cohesiveness.
However, you don’t have to be a sports-medicine professional to tell Hatcher still is not running smoothly. For the Redskins, having Hatcher take it slow in practice is a good start. Eliminating the preseason from his schedule is the next logical step.
Liz Clarke of the Washington Post on what Ryan Clark and Santana Moss have to do to survive in the NFL in their mid-30s:
Ryan Clark’s one essential is the blue cooler he brings to practice each morning and sets on the sideline, never far from view, so he can trot over at scheduled intervals for a sip from one of four bottles inside.
He drinks Amino Matrix, rich in essential acids that boost energy and hasten recovery, throughout the two-hour workouts. Another bottle contains Red 54, packed with antioxidants from beets, carrots, cabbage, blueberries, pomegranate and other superfoods. There’s potassium-rich coconut water for the halftime break and an extra bottle for any teammate who wants one. And he drinks a protein potion afterward.
The cooler, which Clark packs himself, is just one of the extra measures the safety takes, at age 34, to keep his starting spot in the NFL.