Dallas Cowboys: Ike Taylor

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys will not have starting rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers because of a concussion.

Claiborne suffered a concussion and a badly cut lower lip in last week's victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Mike Jenkins will replace Claiborne in the lineup.

Running back Phillip Tanner, guard/center Kevin Kowalski, guard/center David Arkin, tackle Darrion Weems and nose tackle Jay Ratliff are inactive for the Cowboys.

For the second consecutive week, Sean Lissemore will start at nose tackle for Ratliff.

The Steelers inactive: Quarterback Byron Leftwich, cornerback Ike Taylor, cornerback Cortez Allen, defensive end Al Woods, guard Willie Colon, tackle Mike Adams and wide receiver Plaxico Burress.

The Steelers made all sorts of changes to their offensive line for this game. Ramon Foster moves from right to left guard and David DeCastro starts at right guard. Kelvin Beachum moves in to right tackle.

Either Curtis Brown or Josh Victorian will start at corner in place of Taylor. That will be a game-time decision.

Final Word: NFC East

December, 15, 2012
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 15:

Home-field disadvantage? The Atlanta Falcons are 6-0 at home this season, have won 10 straight home games overall, and are 32-7 in the Georgia Dome over the past five seasons. So the fact that they are playing at home this week should help them, right? Well, maybe not. Their opponent is the New York Giants, who not only beat the Falcons in a playoff game in New Jersey in January but have won seven straight games against the Falcons in Atlanta. The most recent of those games was a 31-10 victory on Oct. 15, 2007, but the Falcons have not won a home game against the Giants since Oct. 1, 1978, when they were able to hold Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik to 86 yards on 7-of-21 passing and win on a 9-yard touchdown run by Haskel Stanback in the fourth quarter. Yeah, that's right. You know where to come for your Haskel Stanback notes.

[+] EnlargeJones
Brad Barr/US PresswireTackling explosive Atlanta WR Julio Jones after he touches the ball will certainly be a point of emphasis for the Giants on Sunday.
Keep 'em in front of you: In their playoff victory in January, the Giants held Falcons wide receivers to a total of just 47 yards after the catch -- a figure that accounted for 23.6 percent of Matt Ryan's passing yards in that game. So far this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information, only 39 percent of Giants opponents' receiving yards have come after the catch, which is the second-lowest such figure in the league. However, the possibility that cornerback Prince Amukamara and safety Kenny Phillips could miss the game due to injuries could hurt the Giants' ability to prevent big plays after the Falcons catch the ball.

Uncommon streakers: The Washington Redskins have won four games in a row and are trying for their first five-game winning streak since the 2005 season. They visit the Cleveland Browns, who have won three games in a row and are trying for their first four-game winning streak since the final four weeks of the 2009 season.

Getting to 300: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is averaging 347.3 passing yards in home games this season, the best such mark in the NFL according to ESPN Stats & Info. He has passed for at least 300 yards in each of his past five home games. However, Sunday's opponent is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have allowed fewer than 300 yards in eight straight games. That's the longest such streak since the 2008 Steelers went 14 straight games without allowing 300 yards. Playing without injured cornerback Ike Taylor could affect that, but Romo's top receiver, Dez Bryant, has a broken finger, which could impact Romo's 300-yard streak.

Season of giving? The Steelers lead the NFL with 16 turnovers in the past four weeks. This should be good news for the Cowboys, but the Cowboys have struggled this year to take the ball away from opponents. Only five teams -- Miami, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Philadelphia -- have fewer takeaways this season than the Cowboys' 14.

*Bonus playoff-picture note* The 11-2 Falcons are playing for something. They can clinch a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs with a win or a tie and loss by either the Packers or the 49ers. And if the Falcons win and the Packers and 49ers both lose, the Falcons would clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. No NFC East team can clinch a playoff spot this week.

NFC East free-agency breakdown

July, 26, 2011
NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Unrestricted FAs

A look at the free-agent priorities for each NFC East team:

New York Giants

1. Figure out which of their own guys to keep. With Ahmad Bradshaw, Barry Cofield, Mathias Kiwanuka, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss all set to potentially go free, the Giants have to prioritize and figure out which guys they're keeping. The top priority is probably going to be Bradshaw, an emerging star at running back, and it appears they'll let Cofield walk while trying to bring back Boss. They think the injury situations with Kiwanuka and Smith will help keep those guys' prices reasonable. But before the Giants hit the market, they'll need to get their own free-agent house in order.

2. Get at least one linebacker. The Giants have ignored this position over the past couple of years, and they seem to believe Jonathan Goff can handle the middle linebacker spot. They'd probably be better off moving him back outside and exploring the middle linebacker market, which includes Stephen Tulloch, Barrett Ruud and Paul Posluszny. But if they're set on keeping Goff in the middle, perhaps someone such as Manny Lawson or Nick Barnett could be a fit. It's one thing not to prioritize a position, but it's another to ignore it completely, and the Giants have been doing that with linebacker, to their detriment.

3. Some offensive line insurance. There were lots of injuries along the line in New York last season, and although it didn't kill them, it was a potential sign of things to come. The Giants hope Will Beatty will soon be ready to take over at left tackle for a declining David Diehl, but they must watch out for the health of Shaun O'Hara at center. And if they have to cut Shawn Andrews to sign some other guys, they'll need to replace him with a tackle who can provide depth.

Top five free agents: RB Bradshaw, DE/LB Kiwanuka, TE Boss, DT Cofield, WR Smith

Philadelphia Eagles

1. Settle the Kevin Kolb situation. If they can get the great deal for him that most believe they can (i.e., a first-round pick plus), the Eagles will deal Kolb and look for a reliable backup quarterback who can play if and when Michael Vick gets hurt. If they can't get good value for Kolb, they'll probably keep him to serve as said reliable backup. A trade is most likely, but whatever happens, the Eagles will probably settle this soon after the league year begins.

2. Sign a cornerback. The starting spot opposite Asante Samuel is open, and no one on the current roster appears able to fill it. That's why you've heard, and will continue to hear, the Eagles connected with Asomugha. Philadelphia must rank among his most likely destinations at this point. If they don't get him, they'll look down the list at guys such as Johnathan Joseph, Ike Taylor and Antonio Cromartie. And there's a chance they could get a cornerback for Kolb. But they'll get one somewhere.

3. Re-sign Stewart Bradley. Sure, they could let Bradley go and play Jamar Chaney at middle linebacker. Chaney looked, at least, capable in that spot last season and may be the Eagles' future at the position. But if Bradley leaves, the Eagles' problems will be about more than just the alignment of the linebackers. They'll actually be short on bodies and will need to play the free-agent field to find a replacement. Bradley's had injury problems, but when healthy, he's the Eagles' best linebacker and could be a key cog in whatever new defensive alignment Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn are cooking up.

Top five free agents: LB Bradley, S Mikell, G Nick Cole, RB Jerome Harrison, CB Ellis Hobbs

Washington Redskins

1. Fill out the defensive line. Whether they add a free-agent nose tackle such as Aubrayo Franklin or look at defensive end options like Jenkins, the Redskins must figure who their starting defensive linemen are. They like their linebacking corps, and although they also need a cornerback, they love their safeties with Oshiomogho Atogwe in the fold next to LaRon Landry. But their good, young outside linebackers will need big, space-eating ends in front of them to open up lanes to the passer. And they'll also need to get some sort of pass rush from the line, whether it's from the nose or the ends.

2. Re-sign Santana Moss. The Redskins are making noise about pursuing a big-time wideout such as Santonio Holmes or Sidney Rice. But the reality is that it's going to be tough to convince receivers to sign in Washington while they're not viewed as a contender and the quarterback situation remains so cloudy. Moss likes it in Washington. The Redskins like him. And he's a nice guy to have around to help out young receivers Anthony Armstrong and Leonard Hankerson -- not to mention inexperienced quarterback John Beck.

3. Resolve the Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth situations. They don't want either player on the team anymore, but the question is how to get rid of them. They might be able to dump McNabb for a late-round draft pick, but if they can't, they'll probably just cut him and let him find his next job on his own. Haynesworth has trade value in a league where many 4-3 teams are looking for interior defensive line help. Don't expect the Redskins to cut Haynesworth, because they don't want to do him any favors and they don't want him free to sign with former Tennessee D-line coach Washburn in Philadelphia. If they can't get value for him, don't be surprised if Haynesworth remains on the team all season and has a hard time getting into games.

Top five free agents: WR Moss, OT Jammal Brown, CB Carlos Rogers, LB Rocky McIntosh, QB Rex Grossman

Free agent outlook: Nnamdi Asomugha

June, 27, 2011
In about three weeks, maybe sooner, the NFL will get its act together, end the lockout and league business -- including a free agency frenzy -- will start immediately.

The Cowboys have several holes, and tried to fix some through the NFL Draft. But free agency will be another another avenue to regroup from last season's 6-10 disappointment.

Over the next five days, we'll look at five potential free agents the Cowboys should try and sign.


Kyle Terada/US PresswireFree agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha had no interceptions and just six pass breakups last year, but that's because opposing teams mostly refused to throw his way while covering their best receiver.
Why sign him? He's one of the best cover corners in the game. Quarterbacks don't throw his way, as evident of his zero interceptions and just six pass breakups last year. He's a defender who takes out the opponents' No. 1 wide receiver and can work all over the field. If the Cowboys sign him, it's going to cost them as he'll likely command a salary of about $7 million to $8 million a year. To make this happen, the Cowboys will have to let high-priced veteran Terence Newman go.

Newman, who turns 33 in September, is coming off a season which wasn't his best on the field. It makes you wonder if he's starting to slow down. Adding Asomugha would put pressure on fellow cornerback Mike Jenkins and slot corner Orlando Scandrick to produce because offenses will avoid Asomugha. Of course, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan knows all about Asomugha, having working with him for a few years. So if the Cowboys do pursue Asomugha, Ryan has all the knowledge necessary for the front office.

Is there anybody else? Of course. A cheaper version is Ike Taylor, who gave up just one touchdown last season, according to Pro Football Focus. The Cowboys could stay away from this position entirely and just go with their current group. Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said previous Pro Bowl appearances from Newman and Jenkins gives him hope they can return to their Pro Bowl ways.

Key stat: Newman and Jenkins combined for 19 pass breakups in 2010.