Good morning to all, and welcome to another week on the NFC East blog. The rookie minicamps are over, the regular ones about a month away, but the weekend saw a little bit of newsworthy action here and there, and so we'll get you right to your links.
Calvin Watkins writes that, while the Cowboys' defense was bad in 2011, it was much better than it was in 2010. Which ... fine. But if someone were to sit down and explain to me that air travel was actually more pleasant in 2011 than it was in 2010, I'd react the same way: Who cares, as long as it's still this bad? And I'm not big on the idea that the Cowboys' defense struggled last year because the lockout forced Rob Ryan "to rush the teachings of his defensive system once training camp began." The defense played much better at the start of the season than it did at the end, which leads one to believe it wasn't the scheme but the personnel that got exposed. In the end, the point is that the Cowboys have made major personnel changes on defense and should expect to be better in 2012. Point taken. Still think they needed more.
On a completely, 100 percent different note, in case you were following the story of the 55-year-old grandmother who was trying out to be a Cowboys cheerleader, she didn't make it. But she says she had a heck of a time trying.
New York Giants
Last summer, when Eagles running back LeSean McCoy randomly attacked him on Twitter for being "overrated n soft," Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora fired back, calling McCoy a "chihuahua" and a "Twitter gangster," among other things. Well, Osi's on Twitter now, and he took his turn as Twitter gangster Sunday, wishing McCoy a Happy Mother's Day. McCoy recently became a father, but there's no evidence that Umenyiora knows that or that it motivated the tweet. Anyway, my wife says she thinks it's pretty silly when these guys use "woman" as an insult, since this is 2012. I remind her that, in the minds of professional athletes, it's very often really kind of not.
As for real football stuff, the Giants did have their rookie minicamp, which means media got a chance to talk to the coaches, and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said he's looking at several options for middle linebacker, including newcomer Keith Rivers, who didn't play that specific position in Cincinnati. Fewell doesn't seem high on the idea of moving Michael Boley there.
First-round draft pick Fletcher Cox learned right away that, if you make a mistake on the practice field with the Eagles, a coach will curse at you. From everything we've been told about defensive line coach Jim Washburn, Cox was going to learn this lesson eventually anyway, but it appears defensive coordinator Juan Castillo beat Washburn to it.
Eagles rookie camp featured a couple of quarterbacks -- third-round pick Nick Foles and undrafted free-agent signee Jacory Harris -- and both seemed to feel they got a lot out of the weekend's exposure to an Eagles coaching staff that has a reputation for teaching the quarterback position effectively.
This is the offseason in which returning Redskins free agents announce on Twitter that they have re-signed (as opposed to outside free agents such as Pierre Garcon, who use Facebook -- key difference, you see). Running back Tim Hightower tweeted his return Sunday night, as London Fletcher had some weeks earlier, and the veteran for whom the Redskins traded last year during training camp gets thrown into the running back mix with second-year backs Roy Helu and Evan Royster. A little more on this later, but if healthy, yes, I think Hightower is the front-runner to be the starter.
Chase Minnifield is going to need to beat the odds if he's to have a productive NFL career after going undrafted last month, but he's eager to do what he can to show the Redskins were wise to sign him. And in the Redskins' secondary, truthfully, there are going to be opportunities for him if he can play.