NFC East Roundup: Preseason Storylines

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA Today

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA Today

Week One of the preseason has already come and gone for the rest of the NFC East. Here is a quick rundown of the major story lines coming out of those games.

The Cowboys lost to the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night 17-7, but Bob Sturm of The Dallas Morning News was impressed by La’el Collins’ performance:

He played with that edge that we saw all year for the Tigers, and jumped off the screen at times as a dominant and physical guard who will quickly leap to the top of the Cowboys offensive line picture with the other 1st round picks.  I thought Collins was the best offensive lineman in the 2015 draft, but because of one of the most hard-to-comprehend stories in draft history, he fell all the way out of the draft on the day before the selections were to come down.  The Cowboys were able to sign him as an undrafted free agent and basically add him as a “bonus” signing.  But, that doesn’t mean he still wasn’t the best lineman in the draft.

Honestly, the league must think this is unfair for the best offensive line to add the best prospect at that position.  Regardless, he put on a show last night for his NFL debut with several moments that were just dominant.  He will certainly have things to clean up and other things to learn about what is expected of him, but I have no doubt that he is already one of the 5 best linemen the Cowboys have and ready to over-take the admirable Ron Leary at LG.

Rookie DE Randy Gregory recorded a sack in his debut and Todd Archer thinks he will need to fill a big role if the Cowboys want to make it back to the playoffs:

Well, Gregory better contribute before the playoffs. If he doesn’t, then I don’t know if the Cowboys would actually make the playoffs. With Greg Hardy’s suspension, the Cowboys will be counting on Gregory to play significant snaps. He has had some really good moments in camp. He plays bigger than his size. He can chase plays down. But he’s also had moments where he hasn’t been noticed. That’s with every rookie. The quicker Gregory can be more consistent, the better the Cowboys will be, especially during Hardy’s absence.

The Giants fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-10 on Friday night and all three of New York’s quarterbacks struggled, according to James Kratch of

 [Eli] Manning did not get sacked, but he did not have much time to throw either, as his offensive line had a rough night. Manning finished 4-of-8 for 22 yards, and 16 of those yards came on a screen to Rashad Jennings. Now, one pass was dropped by Preston Parker to negate what would have been a first down. And another was rushed when the protection broke down and a third went for a 5-yard loss as a short screen was blown up in the backfield by defensive tackle Carlos Dunlap after he bullrushed through the line. But still, it was not a great night for Manning.

Dan Graziano of ESPN New York is worried about the number of injuries the Giants sustained in their secondary:

The fact that the injuries were in the secondary, where the Giants really can’t afford them. Even as a rookie, [Landon] Collins has looked like the surest bet to start at one of the safety spots. And while Thompson was a long shot to start, he’s shown a few things in camp and has looked like someone who could at least play a role. Bennett Jackson and  would be the projected starters if Collins has to miss time, but Jackson is also a candidate for the nickel corner spot if [Trumaine] McBride is hurt. Oh, and corners Prnce Amukamara (groin) and Chykie Brown (knee) were already ruled out pregame with their injuries.

Washington defeated the Cleveland Browns on Thursday 20-17, but they lost TE Niles Paul for the season, thanks to a leg injury. Liz Clarke and Mike Jones of The Washington Post look at who can fill the void left in his absence:

The Redskins already are without veteran tight end Logan Paulsen, who tore a ligament in his big toe during camp and may need surgery, likely ending his season. And 6-2, 237-pound Jordan Reed, the most adept receiver among the tight ends, opened the preseason in his too-familiar spot on the injury list, ailing with a tweaked hamstring.

[GM Scot] McCloughan hopes to bring in a few free agents to evaluate on Saturday or Sunday, according to a person with knowledge of the deliberations. But there isn’t an established veteran among them, and the ranks of attractive college tight end prospects in this year’s NFL draft was thin.

Rich Tandler of CSN Washington was impressed by Washington’s lack of mistakes in their first real action of the season:

The Redskins had just three penalties for 45 yards. Thirty five of those penalty yards came on one play, a pass interference call on Chris Culliver that perhaps should not have been called; in any case, it would have been hard to avoid. Kirk Cousins had to burn one time out to prevent a delay of game but overall it looked like the team was ready to play.