Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Breakfast links: Shanahan's big decision
By Dan Graziano
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first week of the NFL regular season. The first real game is scheduled for the day after tomorrow, and we are five days away from the start of play in the NFC East. I have no doubt that you are pumped, fired up and ready for some hot, fresh Tuesday links.
The Cowboys may have something in the regular-season opener against the Jets that they didn't have all preseason -- at least one of their starting cornerbacks. Mike Jenkins says he doesn't see any reason he won't be ready to go, and he downplayed the idea that the lack of preseason game action cost him a chance to get up to speed on new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's defense. We'll see about that. All along, those in the know have said the defense would look better once it had its cornerbacks. If not Terence Newman, at least Jenkins should be there once the games start counting.
Oh, and speaking of Ryan, he was asked about last season's foot-fetish controversy involving his brother, Jets head coach Rex Ryan, and he says Rex is "a little freaky," that it's no big deal, that everybody's got something weird and that he's probably worse than his twin brother is. I think this is the rare journalistic occasion on which follow-up questions aren't necessary or recommended.
New York Giants
Mark Herzlich says he wants "to go from being a feel-good story to making an impact on the field." He'll get his chance as part of the Giants' rookie quartet of backup linebackers. The Giants like a lot of things about this group, from the way they play on special teams to how hungry they are to make their contribution. If the Giants are suddenly strong at linebacker in a couple of years, you'll be seeing a lot of stories about how Herzlich and the rest of this group grew up together.
In case you were holding out hope, Osi Umenyiora has been ruled out of Sunday's opener against the Redskins, and Mike Garafolo thinks there's a chance he might not be ready until the Week 3 game against the Eagles as he continues his recovery from knee surgery. In the meantime, as you know, they go with Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul as the starting defensive ends, which should be fine assuming Pierre-Paul looks as good as he did in preseason.
Danny Watkins was happy to meet newly signed guard Kyle DeVan, who played for Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd in Indianapolis, because he believes he can benefit from picking DeVan's brain. But Watkins, the Eagles' first-round pick from April's draft, also knows DeVan is there to step in and play if he continues his preseason struggles.
It's unclear whether Vince Young, signed to be Michael Vick's backup quarterback this season, will be ready for the Eagles' regular-season opener Sunday in St. Louis. Young pulled his hamstring in Thursday's preseason finale and didn't practice Monday. In this notebook, Jeff McLane also says the Eagles do not plan to add a veteran middle linebacker this week, which means it looks like Casey Matthews has the job.
Mike Shanahan says Rex Grossman won the quarterback competition over John Beck "by an edge," and that he hopes Grossman plays well enough that he won't have to reconsider or shuffle the two in and out of the starting job as the season goes along. Obviously, I have no idea how to handicap the chances that he will, since I was reading him wrong all along and believed he'd start Beck. Grossman could prove capable, or the thing could be a mess all year. Those would seem to be the two options at this point, since it seems as though Shanahan doesn't feel any more strongly about Beck than the rest of us do after all.
Jason Reid says the important thing now is for Shanahan to stick with his decision, and not start flip-flopping these guys at the first sign of trouble. I agree, of course. You're selling your team, at its most optimistic and excited point of the season, on Grossman as its leader. You have to show faith in him if you expect it from them.
Big week ahead. All kinds of stuff for you that we'll be trying out during the season. But it is of course Tuesday, and that means we chat at noon ET. That's the important part.