Breakfast links: Mike Patterson to return

August, 24, 2011
8/24/11
8:00
AM ET
Morning. As some of you know, I've been taking a semi-vacation this week with my family, sightseeing in Washington, D.C. The earthquake was a nice touch. Fortunately, nothing can derail the links.

Dallas Cowboys

Unimpressed by the options they already had there, the Cowboys have signed Shayne Graham and added him to the kicker competition. You may remember Graham as the guy the Redskins signed about a month ago to create a kicking competition with their guy, Graham Gano. You may also remember than Graham looked utterly awful in the Redskins' first preseason game, missing two field goals, and getting cut the next day. But kicker is a fickle position, and you never know. A guy can be rotten in one place and great in the next. Graham is the most accurate kicker in league history, statistically, and his competition is David Buehler and Dan Bailey.

Interesting thoughts from Cowboys linebacker Bradie James on why recent Dallas teams have disappointed. "I think the entitlement kills us," James told FoxSports.com. "Our alumni, our former greats have made us America's Team and we reap benefits that we haven't earned — all the way around, as individuals, as a team. Those guys earned it. We just think we deserve it." Now, that could be James' own conclusion. Or it could be something head coach Jason Garrett is saying behind closed doors and the players are parroting back to the media, as happens often. Regardless, it's good. And if James is the one who came up with it, the Cowboys would benefit from him saying it behind closed doors, too.

New York Giants

Giants fans have to be wondering what their team did to deserve this injury curse. Rookie defensive tackle Marvin Austin has a torn pectoral muscle and will miss the season, which means even more will be expected of second-year defensive tackle Linval Joseph and veteran Jimmy Kennedy, who was recently signed for depth at the position. If you count Osi Umenyiora's knee surgery from last week and (obviously) Terrell Thomas' season-ending knee injury in Monday night's preseason game, that's three significant injuries on defense in less than a week's time on a team that already lacked depth.

But here's a bit of good news, Giants fans: Mike Garafolo writes that new center David Baas showed a lot of improvement from the first preseason game to the second and that he "feels like he's beginning to turn a corner mentally." That's Baas who's turning the corner, not Garafolo, who remains exactly as mental as ever.

Philadelphia Eagles

Three weeks after suffering a seizure on the practice field due to an arteriovenous malformation in his brain, Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson is expected to play in Thursday night's preseason game against Cleveland. The doctors have cleared him, they say, and he can play without risking a serious brain injury, so that's good. Everyone's obviously hoping for the best for the guy. From a football standpoint, if he can play, it just deepens the already very deep Eagles defensive line rotation.

Interesting take here from Bob Grotz, who wonders if all of the offseason player acquisitions the Eagles made could be done in by the fact of so many new faces in key places on the coaching staff. I think it's tough to judge Juan Castillo (or any coordinator, no matter how experienced, on either side of the ball) off of a couple of preseason games. It's always possible the other team had done some game planning and he hadn't. Happens all the time in preseason, and it's the main reason these games have little predictive value. But Bob raises a good point -- as defensive coordinators go, Castillo is a rookie, and if he's not up to his new job, things could get ugly in Philly.

Washington Redskins

Speaking of coordinators, the Redskins did not change theirs, and Santana Moss thinks that continuity at the offensive coordinator spot will be a help to the Washington offense as it looks to exceed very low outside expectations. The offense has indeed looked very good in each of the first two preseason games, but remember what I said like an inch and a half above here about the predictive value of that. Moss' theory is sound, but it's going to come down to how well the quarterback plays and how well the line protects him. No matter who the coordinator is.

Dan Daly looks at O.J. Atogwe and where he ranks among the best safeties in the league. Atogwe was indeed a very good under-the-radar signing the Redskins made before the lockout hit (and before the market for safeties took off), and it doesn't hurt that he's played under Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett when both were in St. Louis. Atogwe is a strong, quiet leader (of which this Redskins' defense has several), and is one of those players who can help the others understand what the coordinator is saying as the team moves into the critical second year of 3-4 installation.

I'll be back home this afternoon and back up to normal posting speed and reliability either tonight or certainly no later than tomorrow morning. That assumes no frogs or locusts, of course. Thanks for bearing with me. Kids had a blast at the Diamondbacks-Nationals game.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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