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Thursday, September 1, 2011
Breakfast links: Who'll back up Vick?

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Happy September, everyone. You know what September is? Yeah, the month when football starts. It's one week until the first regular-season NFL game of the year, 10 days until the first NFC East games of the year, and quite honestly there are 15 Division I-A college football games tonight if you're into that sort of thing, which I am. You know what else I'm into? Links.

Dallas Cowboys

Tashard Choice has a bruised knee and won't play in the Cowboys' preseason finale in Miami. This means Choice will finish the preseason with 14 rushing yards on three carries. Cuts are coming Saturday, and I can't imagine Choice is in huge trouble. I mean, if his roster spot were in jeopardy, they'd have to give him a chance to play in the game and earn it, right? But if someone like DeMarco Murray, Lonyae Miller or my personal favorite, Phillip Tanner, has a big night, it could bode ill for Choice's short-term future in terms of carries and maybe even his long-term future in terms of the roster. They're not messing around in Dallas, remember. Just ask Andre Gurode.

Apparently, after Martellus Bennett said that stuff in the offseason about how Jon Kitna had earned the right to challenge Tony Romo for the starting quarterback job, Romo sat down with Bennett to air some things out because he didn't consider Bennett's comments "in the best interests of the Dallas Cowboys." I like it. Sounds like Bennett did too.

New York Giants

Tom Coughlin said he's weighing whether or not to play his starters at all in tonight's preseason finale, since it'd be the Giants' second game in four days due to the rescheduling as a result of Hurricane Irene. Coughlin, like all coaches, laments the fact that the compressed offseason and new CBA rules have limited his ability to get in enough practices to get his team ready for the season. And certain key parts of Coughlin's team have looked awful in these preseason games. But he's probably better off resting regulars like Eli Manning and trusting that his veterans will be ready come Sept. 11 whether they get a few more meaningless game snaps in or not.

Ohm writes that the Giants' defensive players say they're ready for the season in spite of the injuries that have thinned their ranks. I actually thought the Giants looked very good on defense Monday night, for whatever that's worth, which is very little since it was a preseason game. Again, the front-line starters look very good. I'm just not sure the defense could take another significant injury and still do what they're going to need to do. And there are always injuries.

Philadelphia Eagles

The final preseason game is audition time for the players on the bottom third of the Eagles' current 80-man roster, as Tom Rimback writes. Further down in this story, you'll see an indication that the Eagles don't plan to play either of their rookie offensive lineman, Danny Watkins or Jason Kelce, who are projected to open the season as starters for them in tonight's preseason finale. Me, I'd have run them out there for another quarter or so. But as usual, they didn't ask me.

One of the more interesting battles fought in the Eagles' preseason finale could be the one between Vince Young and Mike Kafka to determine which would start if Michael Vick got injured early in the season. Young has struggled to learn the offense since arriving in Philadelphia. Kafka knows it, but he's not 30-17 as an NFL starter. If Young demonstrates that he's picking things up, I imagine he's the first option off the bench.

Washington Redskins

Everybody, including the other players on the Redskins' roster, awaits the decision on whether John Beck or Rex Grossman will be the starting quarterback for the season opener. Rich Campbell wonders if Mike Shanahan is delaying the announcement in part to keep the Giants -- his Week 1 opponent -- in the dark. Something tells me the Giants have bigger worries.

Thomas Boswell thinks the Redskins have finally hit on a key element in their head coach -- one who's not a nice guy. Now, that doesn' t seem very nice on Mr. Boswell's part, does it? I'm not sure Thomas has really taken the time to get to know Mr. Shanahan...