Cowboys camp report: Day 7

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • Tony Romo returned to practice after sitting out on Tuesday and completed 12 of 18 passes in team and 7-on-7 drills. He was intercepted by cornerback Morris Claiborne, who did a nice job of going up for a slightly underthrown deep ball to wide receiver Terrance Williams. Romo and Dez Bryant had some difficulty connecting, with Bryant dropping a would-be touchdown pass in 7-on-7s. Later, Bryant was shallow with a route in the end zone with the throw just out of his grasp, and Romo overthrew Bryant on a double-move in the end zone. In team drills, however, they ended the drive with a back-shoulder touchdown where Bryant out-muscled Sterling Moore. Romo and Jason Witten continued what has been a near decade-long connection. Romo led Witten down the seam for a touchdown over Justin Durant, and he was able to lead Witten for a nice gain just out of the reach of a linebacker.
  • Every day the Cowboys go through drills to work on ball security or taking the ball away. For the offense, the running backs, receivers and tight ends had to run through a gauntlet of coaches, equipment managers and interns swinging bags or gloves at them through a 10-yard stretch. Only one player fumbled in the drill.
  • Running back Lance Dunbar could be a real mismatch player if he can stay healthy. He had a big gain on a swing pass to the flat and scored a touchdown on a little arrow route out of the backfield, breaking free from rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens with nothing but open space down the middle of the field in 7-on-7s.
  • Brandon Weeden’s prettiest throw of the day was his first throw of the practice. In play-action drills, Weeden was able to arc a pass over linebacker Rolando McClain and before the defensive back, allowing tight end James Hanna to come up with the long completion. In red-zone drills, however, Weeden was not as fortunate. His check down to Hanna was late and inside and fell incomplete, setting up a field goal.
  • Assistant coach Derek Dooley came out firing on his receivers. Unhappy at their effort early in drills, Dooley let loose with some fastballs in short-area drills along the sideline. He barked, “Get some energy and I won’t act like this.” The backup receivers came through. L'Damian Washington made a nice diving catch on a deep ball in one-on-one drills. LaRon Byrd caught two touchdown passes in red-zone drills. Jamar Newsome did a nice job in punt coverage, splitting a double team as a gunner.
OXNARD, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne left Wednesday's practice after twisting his right knee.

The team's medical staff was going to evaluate the knee after the practice. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he didn't know the severity of Claiborne's injury but was not as concerned as he was the previous day about rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, based on the initial evaluation.

X-rays showed Lawrence had a broken bone in his right foot that will sideline him from eight to 12 weeks. Jones said he did not know if Claiborne's injury was serious enough to need an MRI exam.

"[Head athletic trainer] Jim Maurer felt pretty good about it," Jones said. "Our head trainer looked at it. Certainly it was enough to get examined. He's been one of our highlights."

Claiborne said his knee twisted when his cleats got caught in the ground as he attempted to make a play on the pass. He did not take another rep after the play, a back-shoulder fade to Terrance Williams in 7-on-7 drills, watching the rest of the practice from the sideline.

The Cowboys had been encouraged by Claiborne's performance early in camp. There was legitimate hope that this could be a breakout campaign for the 2012 sixth overall pick, who was limited by injuries in his previous two training camps.

Asked if he had a here-we-go-again feeling, Claiborne said, "I don't know. I'm fixin' to go find out."

Eagles Camp Report, Day 4

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
PHILADELPHIA -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Philadelphia Eagles training camp:
  • The interception drought finally ended early in the fourth training camp practice. Safety Malcolm Jenkins jumped a route and picked off a Mark Sanchez pass. A few plays later, cornerback Cary Williams soared through the air and intercepted Matt Barkley. Over the first three days, four Eagles quarterbacks did not throw a single interception. "I know y'all were talking about it, 'three days without interceptions,'" Williams said. "We relayed the message, and we got to it today. When the ball's in the air, I've got to go out there and compete for the ball."
  • Another point of emphasis seemed to be back-shoulder throws. The Eagles quarterbacks tried to throw the ball behind receivers, giving them a chance to break back and beat the defender to the ball. There was mixed success. "There is timing, there is an area you want it on the field," quarterback Nick Foles said. "But there's also a feel with the receiver." When done well, those passes are difficult for defenders to get to. "It's tough," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "It's the opposite of what you're taught. Normally, if you're in position as a DB, the back shoulder is open."
  • Right tackle Lane Johnson is working with the second team because of the suspension that will sideline him for the first four games of the season. Coach Chip Kelly found a silver lining in that cloud. "One of the by-products is that he's not with [right guard] Todd [Herremans] all the time," Kelly said. "Todd, being the older guy, a lot of time makes all the calls on the right side. Lane is forced to be a little bit more vocal. He's working extremely hard."
  • The Eagles have sustained only relatively minor injuries through four days of training camp practices. Wide receiver Riley Cooper has a foot injury. He could be back on the field Thursday or Friday. Running Chris Polk (hamstring) should also be back in action "shortly," Kelly said. Backup center Julian Vandervelde has a back injury that is not related to the one that troubled Vandervelde last season, Kelly said. Rookie wide receiver Josh Huff left Wednesday's practice with an unannounced injury.
  • There's no doubt which wide receiver has caught Mark Sanchez's eye. Sanchez seems to throw almost every pass to rookie Jordan Matthews. It doesn't hurt that Matthews catches everything Sanchez throws his way. Near the end of Wednesday's session, during a red zone drill, the 6-foot-3 receiver caught a perfectly thrown fade pass for a touchdown. On the next play, Sanchez came back to Matthews over the middle for another score.

Redskins Camp Report: Day 7

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
RICHMOND, Va. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Washington Redskins training camp:
  • Redskins defensive end Stephen Bowen, recovering from microfracture surgery on his right knee, said he’s confident he’ll return before the season opener. Bowen, who underwent the procedure in December, said he’s experienced a “little swelling” but that it hasn’t gotten any worse. If healthy, Bowen would be an important part of their defensive line rotation. “It’s just time,” Bowen said. “If I had to right now, a do-or-die, if it’s the Super Bowl, I’d be out there…. I’m feeling good.” Bowen remains on the physically unable to perform list.
  • Offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus missed practice for personal reasons and could end up missing a few days. Third-year lineman Tom Compton took over for Polumbus. Meanwhile, several Redskins missed practice with hamstring injuries: receiver Pierre Garcon, who took part in individual drills before sitting out; safety Phillip Thomas; and defensive end Doug Worthington. Linebacker Adrian Robinson also missed practice and was rehabbing off to the side. Running back Evan Royster returned to practice after missing the previous three days with a hamstring issue.
  • After watching newcomer Shawn Lauvao in the spring, Redskins coach Jay Gruden had some doubts. The free-agent signee had not shown the Redskins what they were hoping to see. He wasn’t getting his timing down on the snap count. He wasn’t getting to the linebackers. Now, Gruden said Lauvao is doing all of that and he’s been solid in one-on-one pass-protection drills as well. “We were a little worried; I’m not going to lie,” Gruden said. “But he’s probably the most improved player from OTAs until now.”
  • The Redskins spent a lot of time working on third-down plays Wednesday, with the defense showing a lot of blitzes. The offense ran several screens, which were designed as much to prepare the defense as the offense. Gruden said they’ve already installed all of their red-zone package and likely will focus on installing their two-minute plays Wednesday night and, perhaps, more of their no-huddle. After that, it will be goal-line and short-yardage situations.
  • A handful of former Redskins visited practice Wednesday: quarterback Joe Theismann, receiver Gary Clark, place-kicker Mark Moseley and tight end Chris Cooley. It was interesting talking to Clark after practice, and I’ll write about his thoughts Thursday. But he was high on this receiving corps and especially high on DeSean Jackson. Jackson reminds Clark of himself. Clark still looks like he could play (except for the fact that he’s now 52. Yes, we should all feel old by reading that number.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The swelling in nose tackle Dan Williams’ left knee has gone down, he said.

All that’s left is a little tightness, but Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians expects Williams to return to the field Friday. Williams has been sidelined since Sunday’s practice because of the swelling. The swelling was so severe that Williams couldn’t bend his knee, he said.

Williams said the first time his knee swelled like that was April 2013 during OTAs. He called his condition a “high knee cap.”
OXNARD, Calif. – Left tackle Tyron Smith’s $110 million contract extension has no impact on the Dallas Cowboys’ negotiations with Dez Bryant.

The Cowboys have long hoped to reach long-term extensions with their two premier young talents before their rookie deals for Smith and Bryant expire after this season. They are halfway there after Smith signed to become the highest-paid left tackle in the league.

The Cowboys consider it a matter of when, not if, they lock up Bryant to a long-term deal.

“It wouldn’t have surprised me if Dez would have gotten done first,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “We’re working hard to do something with Dez. We’re totally committed to make Dez a Cowboy for life as well. Certainly in our plans from Day 1 when we started figuring out our cap this year was to figure out a way to get Dez and Tyron extended.”

Sources told that Bryant and the Cowboys were not close to a deal when the team reported to training camp last week. Jones declined to say Wednesday whether he thought the team could reach a deal with Bryant, who is due to make $1.78 million this season, before the beginning of the regular season.

“I don’t guess on when things get done. I’m positive about it, but I don’t guess when things might get done.”

Jones said it was “fair” for Smith to ask to be the league’s highest-paid left tackle. That’s what it took to sign Smith this summer.

Bryant believes he deserves to be ranked among the top five highest-paid receivers, putting him in the $12 million per year range, which would be the cost of using the franchise tag to keep him next season. Jones declined comment when asked if that was a fair request, citing a policy to not comment on negotiations until they’re done.

"It feels good to know that things are being talked about, but I'm going to let it take care of itself," Bryant told last week. "I feel like as long as I take care of business on that field, the rest will be taken care of."
PHILADELPHIA – Safety Earl Wolff either did or did not take a step forward in his competition with Nate Allen for a starting job. It’s hard to tell with the Eagles.

Yes, Wolff was running alongside Malcolm Jenkins on the first team Wednesday. But, as Jenkins pointed out, he himself saw some second-team snaps this week. The highly touted promotion of first-round pick Marcus Smith from third-team to second-team left outside linebacker might have been something else altogether.

“I don’t think he got moved up to the second team,” linebacker Connor Barwin said. “I think everybody is rotating with every group. I don’t think there is any second or third team yet. They’re going to see (linebacker Bryan) Braman and Marcus against better competition throughout camp.”

The competition between Allen and Wolff figures to last through the preseason. A slight change in the number of first-team reps is all too easy to overreact to.

Allen wasn’t overreacting. The players definitely understand that this is just how coach Chip Kelly does things, mixing and matching players in order to get a good look at everyone. So Allen took his apparent demotion in stride.

“That’s how it’s been,” Allen said. “I’m not worrying about where I am. We’re all going to work together and make each better. We’ve all got to be able to work together and get a feel for each other. I think it’s good. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m just going to work hard.”

From watching them play last season, Allen seems better suited to play deep and offer support in pass coverage. Wolff seems a bit better suited to playing in the box and playing the run. But it’s also true that Wolff was a rookie last season and is more likely to take a large step forward than the veteran Allen.

“He’s a young player with a lot of talent,” Jenkins said of Wolff. “Just off-the-wall talent. He has athleticism. He just has to learn the game. He has to be decisive with his calls, knowing what offenses are giving. That just comes with experience. You’ve got two different dynamics, but they’re both great players. Whoever ends up on that other side is going to be capable of getting the job done.”

For his part, Allen has been a victim of all the change on the coaching staff since he was drafted. This is the first year Allen will have the same coordinator for two full seasons in a row. So while he has more experience than Wolff, he also had to learn a new system from scratch last season.

“I’m looking forward to seeing both of them cut it loose, take more chances and see where their range is,” Jenkins said. “That’s the only you learn as a safety. You have to push yourself, take chances and see where your range is.”
RICHMOND, Va. -- The Redskins signed defensive end Jake McDonough on Wednesday and cut cornerback Courtney Bridget with a waived/injured designation.

Bridget will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. If the former undrafted free agent does not get picked up by another team the Redskins could place him on injured reserve and bring him back next season. Bridget was a long shot to make the Redskins' roster, but at 6-foot-3 he has good length for a corner.

As for McDonough, he played at Iowa State, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Jets in 2013, but was cut in late July. He then played for Portland of the Arena Football League until being signed to Indianapolis' practice squad last December.
Tyron SmithHoward Smith/USA TODAY SportsThe Dallas Cowboys have signed Pro Bowl offensive tackle Tyron Smith to an eight-year extension.
OXNARD, Calif. -- When the Dallas Cowboys selected Tyron Smith in the first round of the 2011 draft, it was the beginning of a change in philosophy.

Never before in Jerry Jones' tenure as the team’s owner and general manager had the Cowboys chosen an offensive lineman in the first round. It always seemed strange how Jones looked to build his offensive line, considering he played the position on a national championship team at Arkansas and should know the importance of the position.

Since taking Smith, the Cowboys picked Travis Frederick in the first round of the 2013 draft. Last May, they took Zack Martin – not Johnny Manziel – with the 16th pick of the first round.

The Cowboys have rebuilt an offensive line that grew old together into one that could be the envy of the NFL.

“We really feel in a lot of ways the offensive line is the heartbeat of the football team,” coach Jason Garrett said. “If you look back at some of the great teams in the history of this league and the history of this franchise, there were always great offensive linemen and great offensive line units. When you have those guys, you can be physical. You need to be physical, particularly in our division, particularly at the end of ballgames, particularly at the end of the season, and that can really positively impact the rest of your team. The quarterback will play better, the receivers will play better, obviously the runner will play better and the defense will play better when you’re good on the offensive line. We’ve made a very conscious effort as a franchise and organization to do that, and we feel like we’re starting to see that group really develop and become the strength of this football team.”

Smith is the centerpiece of that rebuilding job. He has started all but one game since arriving, and he moved from right tackle to left tackle at the start of the 2012 season. He played right tackle at USC and needed some time to adjust to the left, but last season he was named to the first of what should be many Pro Bowls. He was a second-team All-Pro pick.

The $110 million total of the 10-year deal is the highest the Cowboys have given to a non-quarterback in franchise history. According to sources, Smith received a $10 million signing bonus as part of the eight-year extension totaling $97.6 million, and he is guaranteed $40 million.

The best part of the deal for the Cowboys is Smith's age. As he begins his fourth season, Smith does not turn 24 until December and is now signed through 2023. Garrett said it sometimes is difficult to remember Smith is so young.

“Look at him when he walks into the room,” he said. “And beyond that, beyond just his physical stature, he’s got a real maturity about him. It’s really impressive and a lot of the guys have to deal with a lot of things when they transition from college football to pro football. He’s something else. And the kind of guy he is. We really emphasize the importance of mental toughness. We believe that’s a distinguishing trait in players and in teams. And he represents that in spades. He’s off the charts. We love him to death.”
RICHMOND, Va. -- Even though the Washington Redskins weren't in full pads, giving the practice a feel of an OTA workout, there were still some noteworthy plays Wednesday:
  • Defensive end Jason Hatcher worked out hard Wednesday, first attacking the sled by punching each pad and then acting as if he had shed a blocker. He also ran sprints about 20 yards, around a cone and back. By the end of running that, Hatcher looked slightly gimpy. It wasn’t pronounced but it did look like there was just a little bit of a gimp. It wasn’t enough, though, to get him to stop. Hatcher later told NBC-Channel 4 that he would return Aug. 8. So it’ll be just a little longer than the six-week mark after his surgery.
  • Stephen Bowen worked as well, doing one drill in which he rushed upfield, then sprinted to his right as if the quarterback had scrambled that way. He did not hold back a whole lot in this drill.
  • Tom Compton filled in for right tackle Tyler Polumbus at practice. Polumbus was not at the facility; no word yet on his absence, though it’s believed to be related to personal reasons. It was a good test for Compton, but at best it was an up-and-down performance. Ryan Kerrigan drove him back a couple times, especially by staying low and hitting the edge. Twice during 11-on-11 work, Compton hooked Kerrigan. A third time Kerrigan just beat him wide. Compton fared better when Kerrigan went right at him.
  • Niles Paul seems to be improved as a blocker, more so with his technique. I saw him do a nice job against Trent Murphy, with proper arm extension, hands inside and a strong base. Paul won this individual battle. Later in the day, Paul beat linebacker Adam Hayward for a long touchdown pass. He just got behind Hayward in a blitz situation and that was that.
  • Saw a nice block by second-year tight end Jordan Reed against linebacker Brian Orakpo. Reed kept his hands inside and used his feet to help clear an opening. I’ll have more on this Thursday, but Reed said he feels more comfortable blocking in this system than running routes. It’s a comfort level; with the run game being the same, Reed said he knows his assignments there better.
  • The Redskins used some cover zero looks Wednesday, sometimes rushing all but three and other times sending only four. Against one such look, quarterback Robert Griffin III tried to hit Reed between the corner and safety down the left side. But it was just long. Safety Ryan Clark, in a single-high look, was coming over in a hurry and was near Reed.
  • Ryan Grant not only runs good routes, but he maintains his separation by how he comes back to the ball. Saw that a couple times Wednesday, including once against rookie corner Bashaud Breeland leading to a completion from Kirk Cousins. Grant did it another time catching a pass from Griffin while coming back to the ball against corner Peyton Thompson. Another time he came back maybe a yard or so against Richard Crawford for a catch. Makes a difference. Grant isn’t necessarily burning the top corners but you can see a lot of why the coaches like him.
  • Griffin connected with DeSean Jackson on a deep ball down the right side, with Jackson making a leaping catch over corner Bryan Shepherd. Later, Jackson started to pull away from corner DeAngelo Hall down the right side, but Griffin’s pass had too much air under it and Hall was able to intercept the pass.
  • Earlier in the day, Hall played a fade from Griffin to Jackson perfectly, staying even with the receiver and boxing him out for the deflection.
  • Nose tackle Barry Cofield didn’t have his best day rushing in the one-on-ones. Looked like he tried to round off his rush too much against guard Shawn Lauvao, who countered with a good base and footwork to ride him out. On his next attempt against Lauvao, Cofield, using a swim move, again was a bit rounded. I almost wonder if he wasn’t bent a little too much at the waist and cost himself some power.
  • When Orakpo has had success against Trent Williams it’s when he makes it seem like he’s going to go wide, but then burrows right into him and kicks back to the inside. Williams typically does a good job on Orakpo when he tries to rush wide.
  • Morgan Moses has improved since the spring, as he should. But he’ll still get upright. I saw it against linebacker Rob Jackson in the one-on-ones. As soon as Jackson turned the corner, Moses started getting too upright.
  • Some good punts Wednesday. Pretty much every punt I saw had 4.5 seconds of hang time or better. I saw eight punts, too – four by both Robert Malone and Blake Clingan. Malone had two punts that lasted 5.3 and 5.0 seconds, respectively.
  • Griffin’s throws were a little bit off Wednesday. He had some moments, but mostly there were opportunities that just missed (usually high).
  • Safety Bacarri Rambo broke up a deep ball to receiver Aldrick Robinson down the right side. Rambo sprinted from the middle of the field and deflected the pass.
  • Yes, there was a Robinson sighting, catching a deep ball from Cousins. He then slammed the ball over the goal post. That would be a penalty in a game. Robinson has had a quiet camp. He needs to make a little noise.
PHILADELPHIA – Jeff Lurie recently celebrated his 20th anniversary as an NFL owner. Lurie bought the Philadelphia Eagles from Norman Braman way back in 1994.

After Wednesday’s practice at the NovaCare Complex, Lurie was asked if he expected to win a Super Bowl by now.

“I don’t know,” Lurie said, “but I’m obsessed with it. If you love the sport as much as I do, and you love this team and this city as much as I do, that’s the ultimate goal. Until that happens, it’s a hunger. And even if it does happen, it will be a hunger because you don’t want to just be satisfied to have it happen once. It’s my obsession, trying hard to make it happen.”

The Eagles came close, reaching the Super Bowl a decade ago, after the 2004 season. They also lost four NFC championship games during coach Andy Reid’s tenure. But things turned sour after the last of those in 2008. Lurie finally changed coaches in January 2013, completing a makeover of the entire Eagles hierarchy.

“I feel really good,” Lurie said. “I feel very lucky to have a coach and a coaching staff that is really dynamic, a young general manager (Howie Roseman) I think is really outstanding and a young president (Don Smolenski) who is terrific and brings everybody together. It’s lucky for me as an owner. I feel like we have an excellent young team, and we just need to get better. It’s not that complicated.”

It was hard for Lurie to move on from Reid, but he has found a new face for his franchise in former Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

“I just think we got a good coach and a really good coaching staff,” Lurie said. “They just want to get better. They don’t know how to classify themselves or how to compete with last year. It’s just about getting better. Be quiet about it, work at it and get better. The fact that everyone is used to a lot of the schemes on our part, I think, allows for better execution. I’m excited to see how we are (this season).”

Lurie said he expects expectations to be higher this season after the Eagles went 10-6 and won the NFC East title in Kelly's first season.

“It will rise every year, because you just want to get better and better,” Lurie said. “Getting better every day is my expectation.”

Lurie also expects quarterback Nick Foles to take a step forward in his first full season as the starter.

“It’s hard not to be impressed with him from Day 1 in terms of off-the-field [things],” Lurie said. “Just incredibly hard worker, great work ethic, very humble, so respected by everybody around him. I remember talking to Michael Vick about him last year and a little bit the year before. Mike was saying, `Sheesh, this guy is such a superb team player.’ He was only 24 years old at that point and just incredibly respected in the locker room and talented and young and just wants to get better.”
OXNARD, Calif. -- Kyle Wilber found a home at strongside linebacker after an emergency move late last season.

Now, the Dallas Cowboys will ask Wilber to bounce between positions due to need.

Wilber, who was drafted as a 3-4 outside linebacker and played defensive end last season until moving to linebacker Thanksgiving week, is the Cowboys’ incumbent starter at the Sam linebacker spot. He could also be their right defensive end in the nickel package while rookie second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence recovers from surgery to repair his broken right foot.

“I feel good about that because he trained as an end,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “Usually, you don’t like that as much because you don’t get the timing. There are so many other things that are involved in that. But he’s got some good stuff to him, and he’s smart enough to play a little dual role like that.”

Wilber, who has two sacks in two NFL seasons, had already been getting some reps in pass-rush drills as an edge rusher. Those will increase with Lawrence sidelined for the next eight to 12 weeks as the Cowboys sort through all options to replace the rookie they drafted to replace all-time franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware.

Jeremy Mincey will continue to work with the starting base defense, but Marinelli views him as more of an interior rusher in the nickel package. Martez Wilson, who played for three teams last season, is a speed rusher working with the second team.

Marinelli said George Selvie, the starting left defensive end, has the ability to play on the right side, where speed and quickness are at a premium. So does Anthony Spencer, but he’s on the physically unable to perform list and could remain there when the season starts.

The Cowboys had former San Diego first-round pick Larry English in for a visit last week, but no deal is imminent. They’ll continue to explore other options via free agency, but Wilber could be the key to making do without Lawrence.

“The essence of it is you try to tap into some of those pass-rushing skills that we liked in him coming out [of college],” head coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s done a real nice job at that Sam linebacker position. I think he’s growing there. He’s a very good special-teams player. To add this ability to help us on third downs as a pass rusher really just makes him a very valuable commodity for us.

“He just has to work at that. He has to somehow allocate time to develop some of those skills, but we feel like he has a chance to be pretty good at that.”
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There was a whole lotta hootin’ and hollerin’ at the end of the New York Giants' practice Tuesday, from one group in particular.

The defensive backs were all gathered in a circle around reserve cornerback Charles James, bobbing up and down as James regaled them with some sort of song-and-dance routine.

But that’s probably about as much noise as you will hear from the Giants’ secondary this summer. Unlike their counterparts based in Florham Park, Big Blue’s style is not to boast.

“At the end of the day Coach Coughlin is still our coach, and his motto is, 'Talk is cheap, play the game,'" cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “So I think if anyone starts to open their mouth a little too much, I think he’ll shut it for us real quick.”

Amukamara was responding to a question regarding the Giants’ high-profile additions to the secondary this offseason, and whether there’s an added boldness or brashness to the unit this season.

Cornerback Walter Thurmond, who the Giants signed away from the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, did make one eyebrow-raising statement back in April, saying the Giants’ secondary was at least as good if not better than the Seahawks’ so-called Legion of Boom.

But a week into training camp, no Giant has said anything in the same ballpark as the New York Jets' Dee Milliner, who pronounced himself the best cornerback in the NFL a few days ago.

Amukamara did say the Giants’ defensive backs are playing with a little more swagger.

“I would say during this camp we are starting to tune to our swag,” Amukamara said. “With the addition of Walter and DRC, they definitely bring a different dimension to our defensive backfield, and it’s pretty contagious.”

DRC, otherwise known as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Thurmond certainly should help the Giants this coming season. So too could the fact that the defense is facing a faster-paced offense in practice under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

“Reps against the no-huddle with our offense, it does help,” Amukamara said. “Going against guys like Philly, their offense is very, very fast. And I think the Redskins, they do the same thing, too. So that’s only [going to] prepare us for the season.”

But if you’re looking for chest-thumping or self-aggrandizement, East Rutherford is not your best bet -- except maybe right after practice, in the defensive back huddle.
RICHMOND, Va. -- Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden was quick to respond, knowing there really was only one answer. The question: Was Trent Williams just blessed with great feet or could it be developed?

"Yeah, that's blessed," Gruden said. "You can't teach what Trent Williams has."

What the Redskins have in Williams is, as is widely known, a top athlete playing left tackle. That athleticism sets him apart from most other tackles, allowing him to make plays in space that other teams would not ask their tackles to make. At times in the past, for example, the Redskins would use him to sprint from the middle of the field to a spot near the numbers and throw a block on a defensive back.

It's not normal. But Williams is not a normal athlete -- and he takes pride in that part of his game.

"I think I'm a great athlete," Williams said. "I feel I could play a lot of positions on the football field. Obviously I could play offensive tackle the best, but you know, who knows? If I would have lost about 50 pounds, I probably could have been a nice tight end or maybe even an outside linebacker. Who knows, man."

The other day he was trying to jump in line to carry the ball in a live-hitting drill. Williams also joked about playing quarterback in an emergency.

"I think I definitely could," he said, smiling. "I do have a talented arm. Not to toot my own horn, but, you know, just telling the truth."

DeMarcus Lawrence surgery set

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
OXNARD, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will fly back to Dallas on Wednesday to have surgery on his broken right foot on Thursday, according to a source.

Lawrence suffered the injury in Tuesday’s practice in pass rush drills against Tyron Smith. The Cowboys hoped he only had a sprained ankle, but X-rays confirmed a broken foot, which will keep him out 8-10 weeks, according to sources.

Lawrence, the Cowboys’ second-round pick, was off to a good start in training camp and beginning to push Jeremy Mincey for work at right defensive end with the first-team defense. He could miss the first three-to-six regular-season games depending on how fast he can recover.