OXNARD, Calif. -- Yeah, the NFC East blog hasn't been this far out of its geographical comfort zone since the Giants played that NFC Championship game in San Francisco back in January. But here we are, stopping in for a couple of days to watch and chat with the Dallas Cowboys at their far-flung training camp. Weather was utterly fantastic when I arrived Sunday night, and I'm wondering if this might be the first training camp stop I've ever made that wasn't impossibly hot and humid. I shall keep you posted. Meantime, links.
The only news out of Eagles camp Sunday was the awful news of the death of Andy Reid's son Garrett. Our Eagles "Camp Confidential" is coincidentally scheduled to run today, and it was reported and written days before the tragedy, so I hope you'll forgive the fact that there's only a passing reference to Sunday's news. Those pieces are supposed to reflect the mood in training camp, and it's safe to assume that the mood is far different there today than it was when I was there Wednesday and Thursday.
Jeff McLane had, I believe, the best story of the day, relaying his personal experience of talking with Reid about fatherhood. "They grow up," Reid told Jeff back in March at the NFL owners' meetings, "but you never stop worrying about them." Just rotten, lousy news that makes football seem small. The players and people in the Eagles organization love Reid and will rally to support and strengthen him the best they can. But I can't imagine there's any way to ever make this feel better.
A lot of people asked me about the kicking battle when I was at Redskins camp last week, and to be totally honest with you, I was watching other things. But here you go. Mark Maske wrote about it over the weekend. No real way to handicap it, I don't think, until preseason games. And even then the opportunities might be tilted one way or the other. My sense is that Neil Rackers is better, but Graham Gano seems to have a nine-lives thing going on.
Jason Witten caught a couple of touchdowns in Sunday's scrimmage. My theory has been, when people have asked how they'll make up for those 11 Laurent Robinson touchdowns, that Witten is the answer. Yeah, Tony Romo trusted Robinson in the red zone, but who has he ever trusted more than he trusts Witten. Tim MacMahon has a story about Witten and his sense of urgency about this season.
Oh and Jerry Jones says he's not overly concerned about Miles Austin's latest hamstring injury. I mean, sure. Why would anyone be concerned about a Miles Austin hamstring injury? When has that ever been a lingering issue in the past? Seriously, name me one time. Okay, two. Okay, okay... Anyway, Kevin Ogletree is playing in his place.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw is fired up about his chance to be the clear No. 1 running back on the Giants. He told me that in so many words when I was at their camp a week and a half ago, and Ohm Youngmisuk has a story about how Bradshaw is taking more of a leadership role with the Giants. If this guy's healthy, he could do big things this year. Has that look in his eye, like they say. But that health is a big "if."
When the Giants signed Shaun Rogers like two hours before the draft in April, it was an easy move to overlook. And frankly, until I got to Albany and spoke with people about him, my sense was that he was a camp body or a placeholder in case Marvin Austin got hurt again. But Chris Canty is hurt, and Austin may need some time to acclimate after two years without playing in games. And Rogers has been impressing people at Giants camp. A lot of people outside the Giants have told me they're not buying it with Rogers, who's been a behavior case elsewhere. But the Giants don't suffer those. If this guy weren't legit, they wouldn't be giving him all these reps. Anyway, maybe a surprise guy to watch there.