Morning. I trust everyone had a pleasant weekend and is ready to roll. We are three days away now from the first NFL preseason games, and less than five weeks now from the first NFL regular-season Sunday of the year. How will we pass the time? Well, with links, of course.
It appears as though the offense had it all over the defense in the Cowboys' Blue-White scrimmage at the Alamodome, and new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said that was his fault. Cowboys fans must hope they don't have to hear Ryan give that same speech after too many real games this year. That five weeks I referred to above is a critical period of time for the Dallas defense, which is the key to the Cowboys' season, to learn and master Ryan's system.
Montrae Holland, out with a sore back, says he hopes to practice Monday. He's the projected starter right now at right guard, which has some folks worried, I know. Whether Holland can get healthy in short order or not, I would expect that the Cowboys are at least nosing around for an offensive lineman or two who could help on the cheap.
New York Giants
Kevin Boss told Mike Garafolo that the decision to leave the Giants and sign with the Raiders was "excruciating," and he issued an apology to Giants fans. Which is all well and good, but it doesn't do much to fill the gaping hole the Giants now have at tight end, does it?
And I found this one amusing: Steve Smith is apparently going to visit the Giants this week. Visit? He's played there for four years. What's he got to do? Meet the coaches he played for for the last four years? Check out the facilities he's used since the day they opened two years ago? Meet the teammates with whom he spent the past four years playing? I get that Smith is a free agent and wants to enjoy all the free-agent stuff, but he has to come into New Jersey for a visit? Either the money's there or it's not, but how does showing up in person affect anything with Steve Smith's free agency and the Giants?
Jeremy Maclin told Jeff McLane that "those crazy reports aren't true" in reference to the mystery illness that has so far kept him from practicing with the Eagles. The reference was to reports, Jeff says, that the illness is career-threatening. But while Maclin's reassurance is one thing, it's still weird that neither he nor the Eagles will discuss whatever it is that's wrong with him.
Jason Kelce's last name is pronounced "Kelsey," in case you didn't know that already. Why should you care? Well, I was at Eagles camp over the weekend, and I came away with the definite impression that Kelce has a chance to take the starting center's job away from Jamaal Jackson. Les Bowen is starting to get the same feeling, and he writes about Kelce, the sixth-round pick out of Cincinnati, and what makes him so intriguing.
You want to know just how crazy the first week of free agency was? Read this by Rick Maese on the week Redskins VP of football administration Eric Schaffer spent working on 49 player contracts. Man lost seven pounds, Rick says.
Rich Campbell explains why newly signed guard Chris Chester fits in better with the Redskins and Mike Shanahan's zone blocking scheme than he probably did in Baltimore.
All right. I'm off to see the Giants today, but will of course be keeping an eye on all four of our teams. In fact, look for the Eagles edition of our "Camp Confidential" series around midday.