Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Let's look at some depth charts
By Dan Graziano
I have here on my laptop screen three "unofficial depth charts" -- one each for the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. They arrived as part of the media game notes in advance of preseason games, which begin the day after tomorrow. On Monday, I got the ones for the Cowboys and Eagles, who open preseason play Thursday. This morning I got the one for the Redskins, whose preseason opener is Friday. I am assuming that the Giants, who play Saturday, will send theirs tomorrow. (See what I did there? I incorporated simple addition and knowledge of the calendar. My sons' elementary school teachers would be so proud.)
Anyway, these don't, technically, mean anything. The teams call them "unofficial" just so we remember that. But they are fun, and here at the NFC East blog we're all about having fun. So let's take a look at a couple of things I noticed about each of the three I have so far that you, my dear readers, might find interesting. (And don't worry, Giants fans, you'll get your turn when I get your depth chart.)
Not a lot of surprises here. The Cowboys don't list their injured players as front-line starters, so Phil Costa is listed as the first-string center with Andre Gurode listed in brackets at the back of the depth chart as an injured player. They still have Montrae Holland listed as the starting right guard even though he's hurt, too, and David Arkin started there in Sunday's scrimmage. Arkin is listed as Kyle Kosier's backup at left guard, but we know that the alignment was changed Monday so that Arkin was starting with the first team at left guard and Kosier moved over to the right to start next to rookie tackle Tyron Smith.
Felix Jones is listed as the starting running back, though Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray are listed in brackets because of injury and therefore pose no unofficial-depth-chart threat at the moment. Jones' backup on the depth chart is Lonyae Miller. Kevin Ogletree and Jesse Holley are the wide receivers listed immediately behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin at those two positions, for what that's worth. Brings into focus the fact that they could use help at that No. 3 receiver spot.
On defense, they have Marcus Spears and Igor Olshansky starting at defensive end, and Sean Lee starting next to Bradie James at inside linebacker with Keith Brooking hurt. Orlando Scandrick is the starting cornerback opposite Mike Jenkins and in place of the injured Terence Newman, and Alan Ball is listed as Jenkins' backup. Free-agent signees Gerald Sensabaugh and Abram Elam are the starting safeties.
And David Buehler is still listed as the kicker ahead of Dan Bailey, but as I understand it that's not yet settled. Overall, it's tough to get a clear picture of the Cowboys' depth chart because of all the injuries.
The Eagles still list Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, neither of whom has yet had a full practice, as their starting receivers. So the Dream Team rolls a bit differently, depth chart-wise, than does America's Team. Their backups are listed as Riley Cooper and Jason Avant, who are obviously more likely to play Thursday than are the listed starters. Ryan Harris is listed as the starting right tackle and Winston Justice isn't listed at all (presumably because he's on that PUP list). Jamaal Jackson is still listed as the starting center, though you need to keep an eye on Jason Kelce and how much he plays against the Ravens. They also list Vince Young as the No. 2 quarterback, ahead of Mike Kafka.
On defense, the Eagles' first-team line is listed as Trent Cole, Antonio Dixon, Mike Patterson and Juqua Parker. Obviously, Patterson's health concerns have taken him out of the mix for the time being, and Dixon has been limited due to injury. So you're more likely to see Cullen Jenkins and Anthony Hargrove at those defensive tackle spots, with Trevor Laws in the mix once he's healthy. Deep rotation on the line, where free-agent signing Jason Babin is a second-team defensive end along with Darryl Tapp. They're listing Casey Matthews as the starting middle linebacker in between Jamar Chaney and Moise Fokou, and Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha are the starting cornerbacks. Kurt Coleman is listed as the starting free safety opposite Nate Allen and in front of rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett.
Johnnie Lee Higgins is listed as the kick returner and as Jackson's backup punt returner.
Rex Grossman is listed as the starting quarterback, which is a change from the depth chart Mike Shanahan had on the wall of his office last week and could have something to do with John Beck's groin injury. It'll be interesting to see, if Beck is healthy, which one starts and how much they play. I think they'd like Beck to win the job but are prepared to go with Grossman if Beck falls on his face.
They're also listing Tim Hightower as the starting running back with Ryan Torain injured. But even if Torain were healthy, I believe they prefer Hightower assuming he can control his fumbling problem. Jabar Gaffney is listed as the starting wide receiver along with Santana Moss. Anthony Armstrong and Leonard Hankerson are listed as the backups. No surprises on the offensive line.
On defense, they have rookie Ryan Kerrigan starting at outside linebacker opposite Brian Orakpo and Rocky McIntosh starting inside along with London Fletcher. That puts Lorenzo Alexander in a bench/utility role from which he can help in multiple ways. Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker are listed as the defensive ends on either side of nose tackle Barry Cofield. They have Josh Wilson starting at cornerback opposite DeAngelo Hall, and it'll be interesting to see if Wilson holds that job through and after Phillip Buchanon's four-game suspension. Reed Doughty starts at strong safety with LaRon Landry injured, and they're still listing Graham Gano as the kicker ahead of Shayne Graham, though it's possible that whoever shows up first when Shanahan yells "Graham!" will get to kick.
Have fun with it, folks. I'll take questions here and in the chat, at noon ET.