Eye On the Enemy: NFC East Roundup

David Wilson's neck injury forced him to retire at age 23 this week.

David Wilson’s neck injury forced him to retire at age 23 this week.

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 have high hopes for their corners after deciding to play press man more, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com:

The Dallas Cowboys’ coaching staff did a disservice to their cornerbacks last season.

With Monte Kiffin making the defensive calls, the Cowboys primarily used zone coverages, rarely allowing their cornerbacks to play press man. That was a source of internal friction last season and will change with Rod Marinelli as the defensive coordinator.

“We’ve just got to be smart with it, but I’ve got great, great confidence in our corners,” Marinelli said despite the fact that Brandon Carr has yet to report to camp due to his mother’s death and Morris Claiborne has missed the past few practices due to knee tendinitis. “Unbelievable confidence. Those guys are really good players. You have to play to your strength. I think that’s our strength.”

Rod Marinelli’s “travel rules” could really help Bruce Carter, says Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News:

With Rod Marinelli now the defensive coordinator, the Cowboys have invoked the “travel rules” within their scheme. That means Carter will line up behind three-technique defensive tackle Henry Melton on every play, even on the strong side of the field.

With Melton protecting Carter on every play, the linebacker should be free to get to the football quickly.

Marinelli has always used the “travel rules” within the Tampa 2 scheme, and it’s paid off in his previous stops.

In Tampa Bay, three-technique tackle Warren Sapp protected weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks. They’re both in the Hall of Fame. When Marinelli was in Chicago, Melton protected linebacker Lance Briggs. In 2012, Melton went to the Pro Bowl, and Briggs had 103 tackles and 11 pass breakups.

If cleared to return by the NFL, Dallas would welcome back Josh Brent, reports Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett echoed owner Jerry Jones is saying he would welcome former defensive tackle Josh Brent back to the team if he is cleared to return by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Brent is seeking reinstatement into the league after completing the terms of his 180-day jail sentence after being convicted of intoxication manslaughter in the December 2012 car incident that killed Cowboys teammate Jerry Brown.

Brent, 26, will meet with Goodell on Thursday to determine if their will be any additional punishment under the league’s personal conduct policy.

Jones said Brent deserves a second chance and promised a roster spot if he is reinstated by Goodell.


David Wilson gave an emotional goodbye, notes Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News:

“And every time I watch a Giants game or a football game and see people play that I actually had a chance to meet, I want to see them try to be great. Because it can be taken away,” the 23-year-old Wilson said. “So when they go on the field I want to see them, every Sunday or Thursday or Monday, I want to see them guys be great, see them push themselves.

“That’s where my joy will come from.”

The joy of playing was taken away from Wilson on Monday when doctors told him his neck condition made it too dangerous for him to continue his career and that they wouldn’t clear him to return to football. Wilson said he had been aware that was a possibility ever since he suffered a neck burner in practice last week, just one week into his attempted comeback from neck surgery.

And the Giants’ 2012 first-round pick insisted he’s at peace with that decision. He insisted he was truly happy as he paused one last time to reflect on his all-to-brief career with the Giants.

Mathias Kiwanuka could be very important this year, according to Dan Graziano of ESPNNewYork.com:

If you watched the preseason game Sunday night, you saw Kiwanuka linger behind the line and bat down an EJ Manuel pass. He had a strong game, and he has had strong practices. The Giants have moved him around the line, having him and fellow defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul switch sides and sometimes moving Kiwanuka inside to defensive tackle on passing downs. Kiwanuka is always a quiet guy, and that hasn’t changed, but he seems somehow more charged-up on the field than I remember him. Maybe it’s the fact that he is being used strictly as a pass-rusher now, with no more linebacker duties. Maybe it’s that Justin Tuck is gone and he sees it as his responsibility to slide into that leadership role on the defense.

“I think just being in these halls for a long time, and everybody that comes in, the longer they stay, the more they understand it,” Kiwanuka said earlier in camp. “Having a lot of new guys around here adds an increased role I have to play in terms of letting people know about the history. It’s not just a mystique thing from the outside. It’s a true way we approach the game and life. Myself and a lot of other guys who have been here are taking the lead and just going out there and showing people how to work.”

The Giants want more from Prince Amukamara, writes Paul Schwartz of the New York Post:

But the Giants want more from Amukamara.

“I would like to see him intercept two of those three balls because he had a chance,’’ cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta said Tuesday at training camp. “He had better position than the receivers did on all of them. He did a great job of the forcing the receiver. He had them pinned against the sideline. He did a great job at the line of scrimmage getting his hands on the guys and forcing them to the sideline.’’

It may have been a great job but it was not a complete job. Entering his fourth season with the Giants, the 25-year-old Amukamara is in his physical prime and has shaken off some early-career turbulence fueled by injury, missed practice time and his wide-eyed, sluggish recognition of the give-and-take world of an NFL locker room. In some ways, the Giants lightened the load on him by opening the coffers to sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a star-quality cornerback. In some ways, they made Amukamara’s job more difficult.


John Clayton of ESPN.com‘s joint practice observations includes a positive sign for Robert Griffin III:

1. A positive repair sign on RG III: Last year, Griffin was coming off ACL surgery. He spent the offseason rehabbing and strengthening his knee instead of advancing his game. Looking back, people in the organization are saying Mike Shanahan made a mistake playing him at the start of the 2013 season. New head coach Gruden is repairing the player, and the hard work is showing results. Gruden admits RG III has a long way to go, but the knee brace is off and the sky is the limit for him.

Griffin gets to the office at 6 a.m. and is lucky to leave by 8 p.m. Gruden has him working on more three- and five-step drops to get the ball out quickly and get into a rhythm. Where the previous coaching staff wanted to use Griffin as more of a running quarterback, Gruden wants to be less reliant on that part of his game. Expect the Redskins to call only a few runs a game for Griffin. In Cincinnati, Gruden turned second-round choice Andy Dalton into a three-time playoff quarterback who just received a monster contract. Griffin has more talent than Dalton. By midseason, watch out.

The Patriots have put on a clinic against the Redskins this week, says Liz Clarke of the Washington Post:

And the headline couldn’t have been overstated had it been put in flashing neon lights: Brady’s command of his position has his Patriots in midseason form, while the Redskins are about where you’d expect a 3-13 team with a re-tooled offense to be 48 hours before its preseason opener.

The ball rarely hit the ground when the Patriots’ first-team offense squared off against the Redskins’ defense in 11-on-11 drills. It was one rapid-fire completion after another to receivers all over the field and especially wherever Rambo lurked, subbing for starting free safety Ryan Clark who sat much of practice after tweaking a hamstring.

Drive after drive, Brady moved his Patriots with such efficiency that the Redskins’ secondary barely had a chance to make a play.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley thinks the Redskins should change their name:

I was asked earlier today and answered that I do believe it is probably time for the Washington Redskins to change their team name.