NFC East Roundup: Bryant Reports; DeSean Skips

Andrew Weber / USA Today

Andrew Weber / USA Today

OTAs opened up this week around the NFL. Here are the headlines concerning the rest of the division:

Unlike Evan Mathis, Cowboys WR Dez Bryant reported to the Cowboys OTAs. But he remains unhappy with his contract situation, writes David Moore:

Dez Bryant’s surprise appearance at organized team activities Thursday should not be taken as a sign that progress is being made in negotiations.

Sources said the Pro Bowl receiver went through individual drills but did nothing during the team portion of practice. One source stressed that Bryant’s appearance has nothing to do with any sort of movement in negotiations. He simply wanted to practice with teammates, show his commitment to staying in shape and get some work in with quarterback Tony Romo.

Bryant has shown up randomly at Valley Ranch during the off-season to work out and Thursday was no different, the source said. The sessions aren’t mandatory.

Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas reports that Cowboys second-round pick Randy Gregory has impressed All-Pro offensive lineman Tyron Smith:

Smith was willing to give Gregory one victory in pass-rush drills, but just one.

“He’s a swifty kid,” Smith said. “He’s pretty quick, a different type of rusher. He’s going to be pretty good.”

The Cowboys used Gregory as their right defensive end in the nickel defense on Wednesday. Depending on what happens with the appeal of Greg Hardy’s suspension, Gregory’s role could be greater, at least early in the season.

According to Jordan Raanan of, the Giants are interested in signing former number one overall pick Jake Long:

Long, 30, is a former No. 1 overall pick of the Miami Dolphins. He suffered a torn ACL in his right knee each of the past two years with the St. Louis Rams. He was released earlier this year and left the Giants visit unsigned. His health is certainly a factor.

Long last tore his ACL in late October. It has been seven months since surgery. ACL tears often take in the range of nine months to heal. A second shredded ACL in such a short period of time makes Long a long-term injury concern.

Eli Manning thinks the Giants joint practices will go much smoother this time around compared to the last time they tried them, writes Ebenezer Samuel of the The New York Daily News.

[Jeremy] Shockey’s not here anymore, so I think we’ll have a shot to keep it civilized,” Manning said.

When the Giants last staged a joint practice it was at the University of Albany with the Jets in 2005, and Shockey started a fight with several Gang Green players. Shockey has been out of football since 2011.

“Giants and Jets, the whole deal,” Manning said. “With the Bengals I think we’ll be able to keep it civilized. The two coaches (Tom Coughlin and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis) that are conducting this both want to get something out of it and keep it productive.”

Manning added that he loves the idea of varying things in training camp. “I think it’s good in training camp to mix it up and get some new blood in there and get some different looks.”

Liz Clarke of The Washington Post doesn’t think DeSean Jackson’s absence from OTAs is very smart:

Jackson’s defenders also note that the off-season workouts that continue this week and next at Redskins Park might be essential in the view of some, but they’re technically optional for players under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement. Moreover, they argue, Jackson is a three-time Pro Bowler who doesn’t need repetition of running pass-patterns in the heat in order to be great. He’ll show up ready to play.

But even if opting out is a player’s prerogative — as well as the unstated perk of star receivers with lights-out speed — Jackson’s decision to do so on the heels of a miserable 4-12 season rather than roll up his sleeves with the rest of his team was a misstep on multiple levels.
However, Ryan Kerrigan said that Jackson’s absence isn’t a huge deal in the minds of the players:

“I don’t think so,” Kerrigan said Friday on ESPN 980, asked if his teammates were “really upset” about Jackson’s decision to skip the first week of voluntary practices. “Of course, you’d rather have him there than not.”

Kerrigan also acknowledged that there’s a different set of unwritten rules for star players vs. the rank and file.

“We saw what DeSean can do on the field last year,” Kerrigan said. “He was one of our best players, not only on offense but on the whole team. He’s a guy that showed up every Sunday, and he performed.”