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Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Breakfast links: Maclin's absence an issue

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Good morning to all. Your links are piping hot and ready. Come and get 'em.

Dallas Cowboys

I'd say at this point that Kevin Ogletree has an opportunity to be a factor in the passing game. And if that's the case, you'll surely want to know about his 30 tattoos, including the one of his grandfather, and which 'Entourage' character he'd like to be. Don't worry. Got you covered.

Clarence Hill thinks Tashard Choice's injury and Lonyae Miller's strong early showing could mean Choice's spot on the roster is in trouble. I'm a little bit skeptical on that, as is Choice, if you read his tweets on the matter. Could be a case of somebody trying to light a fire under Choice and get him on the practice field. Or it could be true. We shall see.

New York Giants

Paul Schwartz writes of young defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin, who are tasked with replacing Barry Cofield in the middle of the Giants' defensive line. Both are large, talented young men who were drafted in the second round. They are an example of the Giants' 2011 plan/hope that the depth they've developed within their system at certain positions on both lines can sustain them in a year in which they weren't able to be active in free agency.

I didn't personally see Steve Smith at the Giants' facility Monday, but multiple reliable sources said he was there, and Zach Berman writes that he'll be back Tuesday for an examination of his surgically repaired knee. Sounds as if the Giants and Smith are inching closer toward a contract agreement, but it also sounds as if Smith won't be ready for the start of the season even if that happens, which means Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden & Co. have an opportunity if they want one.

Philadelphia Eagles

Bob Ford makes the very good point that, while DeSean Jackson's holdout can be (and apparently has been) fixed by something as simple as Jackson deciding to show up and practice while they work out a new contract, Jeremy Maclin's absence is not so easy a problem to fix.

The Eagles didn't sign Ryan Harris to hold a spot for Winston Justice while Justice got healthy. They signed him because they felt uncertain about right tackle and that Harris could be the solution. So the fact that Harris is running with the first team while Justice works his way back from injury is significant, and if Harris is starting at right tackle on Sept. 11, it's not going to be a major upset.

Washington Redskins

Nice story by Carla Peay on new Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson, who used to work the concession stands at FedEx Field and now will play for the team on Sundays. Money quote: "It's going to be a great feeling not having to serve fries."

If there's a position of strength on the Redskins' offense, it's tight end, where Chris Cooley and Fred Davis believe they should be on the field together more than they have been. And yes, it makes sense to give an unproven quarterback such as John Beck the ability to rely on reliable tight ends. But I asked Mike Shanahan about this when I was there last week, and he kind of hedged, which means either he didn't want to to tell me about specific offensive sets he's planning to run or that he expects his tight ends to have to do a lot of blocking since the line and the rest of the offense are such major question marks. Or both. I actually think it may have been both.

We'll chat at noon ET, since it's Tuesday, and the Giants are off today so no training camp for me. Just a normal day in front of the computer, enjoying the day's NFL news with all you good folks.