NFC East Roundup: Redskins Running Back Hurt

Also: The Cowboys open up their new practice facility.

Matt Jones. (USA Today Sports)

Matt Jones. (USA Today Sports)

Week two of the preseason is over, and with that, let’s take a spin around the NFC East to see what’s going on in the division:

In Washington, the Redskins edged out the New York Jets, 22-18, Friday night. Although the outcome of the game was a win, the team suffered a loss with an injury to running back Matt Jones. The starting back suffered a left AC joint sprain. The team doesn’t know a timetable from Jones’s return, as Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes.

The problem here is that the Redskins have little proven depth at the running back position. Rookies Keith Marshall and Robert Kelley are currently second and third (not necessarily in that order) on the depth chart. Neither was particularly impressive against the Jets with Marshall gaining 26 yards on 10 carries and Kelley gaining eight yards on three carries.

Jay Gruden said that he has not yet determined how comfortable he might be in going with Marshall and Kelley as his primary backs until Jones is able to return.

“What my level of comfort is will be determined after I watch the film,” he said.

For quite some time here has been talk of the possibility of the Redskins bringing in a veteran running back to be Jones’ backup. But the team has been patient while looking at the younger players. But if Jones is going to be out for any length of time they may have to set patience aside and bring in a proven back to help carry the load.

As the offensive line keeps Kirk Cousins safe and happy, Cousins does the same for his linemen, pens Chris Lingebach of CBS Washington.

“Whether that’s in the middle of a game saying, ‘Hey, you guys. Great pocket there. I had a great pocket.’ Just in between plays all the way to taking them out to a steak dinner and telling them all night long how great they are. All if it means a lot and the guys appreciate it, I just want to make sure I don’t get tunnel vision and start only thinking about my job and what I have to do, and that’s why I need guys like Will Montgomery to be reminding me constantly that, ‘Hey, Kirk. It’s been a few weeks. Let’s go out to dinner.’ I always appreciate those gentle reminders.”

One of those moments came up last week, during Washington’s preseason opener in Atlanta while most of the starters, after already putting in their work for the day, watched the remaining quarters from the sideline.

“I was standing on the sideline early in the second quarter and I had been out now for a couple series,” Cousins said. “And I was starting to get hungry, and I looked over to the equipment guy and said, ‘How much time do you need to have food in the locker room at halftime?’

“So, sure enough, I sent somebody in to make sure we had some food for the guys, some hot dogs and some stuff just so that we wouldn’t be starving the whole second half.”

The Redskins take on the Buffalo Bills at home Friday night.

In New York, the Giants were shutout by the Buffalo Bills, 21-0, yesterday afternoon. The first-team offense, led by Eli Manning, could not get anything going. Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News has more.

Manning was just as disappointing, gaining only one first down on 4-of-9 passing for 44 yards on a 22-yard slant to Odell Beckham Jr. on Big Blue’s first drive. The preseason isn’t necessarily a predictor of the regular season, but the franchise quarterback wasn’t ignoring Saturday’s futility.

“You can’t freak out,” Manning said, “but you’ve got to understand there’s got to be some urgency, we’ve got to do some things better than we were today.”

The offensive line committed one penalty on each of its first three drives, and the regular starters were the culprits, not backup Bobby Hart, who started at left guard for Justin Pugh (bruised shoulder). The first-team offense averaged just 2.1 rush yards on six carries by Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams and Shane Vereen.

A false start by right guard John Jerry set back the first series, which ended when Manning overthrew Beckham down the left sideline on 4th-and-4 from the Bills’ 36-yard line.

A holding penalty by left tackle Ereck Flowers stalled the second drive. A holding penalty by center Weston Richburg and a Lorenzo Alexander sack past Flowers ended the third series. Manning took the blame for the sack, though, saying he didn’t move the pocket well enough.

Although he participated in warmups with the team in full uniform, Victor Cruz did not play. He does hope to practice on Monday and play next weekend, according to Steve Serby of the New York Post.

“Just to be out there, just to go through the warmup, go through the stretches, go through the one-on-ones with those guys, it was somewhat nostalgic,” Cruz said. “It’s been a long time, so it felt like I belonged, it felt like I was supposed to be out there. Now I’m just excited for that final step to get out there and get some playing time.”

Cruz, his groin no longer an annoyance, said he hopes to practice Monday.

“I definitely want to play next Saturday,” he said.

He smiled at the irony that his first game back since that fateful Oct. 12, 2014, night at the Linc could come against the Jets.

“Naturally, it’s been part of my DNA, the Jets that is,” he said. “But I’m excited, I’m excited for that opportunity, I’m excited just to get out there. It just so happens to be the Jets, but I didn’t care who it was.”

Next up, the Giants are at MetLife Stadium as the visitors, as they take on the New York Jets Saturday night.

Finally in Dallas, the Cowboys blew out the Miami Dolphins, 41-14, with another impressive performance by Dak Prescott. But it sounds like Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith will miss the remainder of the preseason with a biceps injury. David Moore of the Dallas Morning News has more.

“I think everybody understands he’s going to be ready to go against the Giants,” [Stephen] Jones said of the opener on Sept. 11. “If we feel like he’s in the right spot to take a few series then we might look at it.

“But if we don’t feel good about it we’ll hold him out.”

Jones conceded the Cowboys talked long and hard about whether they wanted to play quarterback Tony Romo Friday night against the Dolphins since Smith wouldn’t play. The determination was to play Romo and start Chaz Green at left tackle.

Green struggled in the preseason opener against the Los Angeles Rams but played better against the Dolphins.

“Tony was aware of the situation, and I thought Chaz did a nice job,” Jones said. “At some point Chaz has to gain trust and there’s no better way to do it than running with the first-team.

The Cowboys have a stunning new headquarters in Frisco, Texas known as The Star, including The Ford Center, an indoor stadium that seats 12,000 fans. Brian Gossett of the Fort Worth Star Telegram spoke with Paul Manno and Scott Armstrong, the two men behind the project.

The architects have had many meetings with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his family. The Jones family has a reputation of doing things in a big way. Manno and Armstrong understood the magnitude of the project from the start.

“I think when you say Jerry’s doing it big, I think what that means is he wants to do it right. They made a lot of really smart investments,” said Manno, who claims more than 20 million square miles of design experience.

“They’re very involved, and many people know that about them. This is their team and this is who they are,” Armstrong said. “Even today, you’ll get emails from Charlotte [Jones Anderson] and Jerry; there are things that they want to be involved in, every step and every decision.”

Anderson is the team’s executive vice president/chief brand officer and one of the most powerful women in sports.

“I always appreciated how the Cowboys have always addressed their brand,” Manno said. “The fact that they named it The Star —how many organizations can you call The Star — so just a lot of respect for them as an organization and how they’ve taken their brand and watching it evolve through all the years.”

When talking about concepts with the Jones family, fan experience and Texas high school football were some of the priorities.

“Most NFL training facilities stand alone, but the fact that this is nestled in this Frisco community, the fact that they chose to make it a part of the community, that to me is what’s unique about it,” Manno said. “It’s one of the coolest things to me. Working with the Jones family was a very cool experience.

The Cowboys are in Seattle to take on the Seahawks on Thursday.