Monday, August 15, 2011
Breakfast links: A grumpy Osi returns
By Dan Graziano
We're back, and so is Osi Umenyiora, who told the AP on Sunday night that he would return to New York Giants practice Monday and play under the terms of the contract he hates. This was already in the works at the end of last week, as Umenyiora seemed to be grasping the idea that he couldn't push his protest any further to any real effect, and while it's fun and easy to think that the performance Jason Pierre-Paul put on in Saturday night's preseason opener made Umenyiora wake up and realize the Giants could survive without him, it appears as though he'd already made his decision before that happened. Regardless, the Pierre-Paul thing is one of the reasons the Giants always held all the cards in this situation, and so no, I don't expect them to look to trade Umenyiora because he's unhappy. All along, I expected them to call his bluff, and they did, and now he's back. I imagine he'll be plenty motivated to have a great year and put himself in a stronger position from which to execute this same tactic a year from now.
Some things take more time than teams have had, post-lockout, and the Giants believe new center David Baas merely needs more time with his offensive linemates in order to correct some of the mistakes that showed up on film from Saturday's game against the Panthers. This year's preseason games are more important than those of years' past due to the limited amount of practice time some of these groups have had together. In the past, a summer's worth of OTAs and minicamps and training-camp two-a-days might have had the reworked Giants line communicating more smoothly by the first preseason game. The point, of course, is to get there by the Sept. 11 regular-season opener in Washington.
Kicker Lawrence Tynes has a bruised thigh as a result of the blocked kick by the Panthers late in the game. Tom Coughlin seemed to lay the mistake at the feet of rookie offensive lineman James Brewer, but he declined to name Brewer as the responsible party when pushed on it. Good move, since why get on the rookie when the whole team looked bad, but I don't think Coughlin's fooling anyone on this. Seemed pretty clear that Brewer missed his block. No word on whether they'll bring in a kicker while Tynes gets healthy, but Shayne Graham is available.
Jason Garrett has had officials at every Cowboys training camp practice, which is uncommon but is apparently part of Garrett's plan to get his team to cut down on penalties this year. The Cowboys were sixth in the league in penalties in 2010, making that just one of several areas that must improve if what's basically the same roster expects to contend for a playoff spot.
Charean Williams believes Cowboys fans could be seeing a lot more of Stephen McGee in the future, as he is being groomed to take over as Tony Romo's backup. Jon Kitna was outstanding as a fill-in last year when Romo got hurt, but he's about to turn 39 and it's possible that McGee could be the guy to take over if Romo were to get hurt again this year. No word on whether this is a make-or-break year for McGee.
Those looking for clarity on how the Eagles plan to use their cornerbacks this year are welcome to read Les Bowen's story on the topic. But (and this is no reflection on Les), you're not going to find the clarity you seek. That's because the answer to the question of how the Eagles plan to use all of their cornerbacks is: A whole bunch of different ways, depending on situations and matchups. Which is actually smart, assuming you have the kind of nimble coaching minds that can handle the play-to-play adjustments. The Eagles obviously believe they do.
Steve Smith and LeSean McCoy have yet to meet to discuss Smith's involvement in this summer's lovingly remembered Twitter feud between McCoy and Umenyiora while Smith was still a Giant. Now that Smith's an Eagle, he said he planned to speak with McCoy about that. McCoy said Sunday that hadn't happened yet.
John Beck is back and planning to play Friday night in the Redskins' second preseason game. In the first one, with Beck sidelined by a groin injury, Rex Grossman played very well. If Beck wants to be the starter, he'll have to look as composed as Grossman did when the lights go on. But if he does, then yes, I believe he still retains a very good chance of winning the job. The coaches like him a lot.
Safety O.J. Atogwe is hoping to return soon from the hamstring injury that kept him out Friday night. This is not an unimportant guy. Not only is he a very good player, but he knows things about Jim Haslett's defense, from their time together in St. Louis, that other guys are still learning. Having Atogwe on the field during games, helping with the calls and the checks, would be an asset.
I am home for the first few days of this week and hoping to catch up on some stuff I still have from my first three training camp trips -- John Beck stuff, Eagles offensive line stuff, William Beatty stuff ... lots of stuff that you'll see here in the coming days. I fly to Dallas on Wednesday night and will spend a couple of days at Cowboys camp Thursday and Friday, so there'll be plenty of stuff from there as well. Meantime, I hope you enjoyed this stuff.