Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Breakfast links: Felix Jones out a month?
By Dan Graziano
Tuesday is a big day on the ESPN.com NFL page. To make sure you have the energy to power your way through it, let's make sure you get your links.
New York Giants
Injured defensive end Justin Tuck says he's "confident" he'll play in the Giants' next game, which is the week after next against the Dolphins. Tuck has endured a lot of frustration connected with his neck injury, including missed games and surprise criticism from former teammate Antonio Pierce. He desperately wants to play, and while the Giants are getting strong defensive end play from Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul in his absence, there's no denying they're a better defense when he's in there.
The Giants are hoping to get a lot of people back from injury when they return from their bye week. The list, according to Tom Canavan, includes right guard Chris Snee, running back Brandon Jacobs, receiver Ramses Barden and rookie cornerback Prince Amukamara. Now, the first two, sure. But Barden? We'll believe he's a factor once he's finally on the field and contributing. And while everybody's been excited about Amukamara since draft day, it's worth remembering that he's still a rookie who had one NFL practice before his injury and will be playing, I believe, with screws in his surgically repaired foot. His presence could help snap some people (Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant in particular) back into their more appropriate roles, but I think expectations for Amukamara should be a little more tempered than they seem to be at this point.
The play of the Redskins' offensive line has been a major reason for their success this year, and with left guard Kory Lichtensteiger out for the year and left tackle Trent Williams likely out a few weeks, they have some shuffling to do. As coach Mike Shanahan pointed out, the Lichtensteiger injury is especially tough, since he was playing "at a very high level," and I'm interested to see what impact this has on the Redskins' run game the rest of the way.
LaVar Arrington has some advice for Rex Grossman if he does get another shot at the Redskins' starting quarterback job. LaVar thinks Grossman should stop making predictions and let his play on the field do the talking for him. Of course, having watched him play Sunday, I wonder if maybe that's what Grossman was afraid of doing all along.
Todd Archer's got a source saying Felix Jones could miss 2-to-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain. This would be a tough to overcome for a Cowboys team struggling to find its offensive identity. Jones' preseason performance was a real reason for optimism as the Cowboys' season began last month, but he's been unable to build off of it, and for the time being the run game looks to be in the hands of Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray.
And Calvin Watkins engages in some speculation about players the Cowboys could potentially bring in to address their injury-wracked offensive line situation, including former Cowboy Montrae Holland and former Eagle Nick Cole. Again, speculation by Calvin, as he admits, but things do seem to be getting a bit thin up front. Again.
Because Sheil Kapadia is Sheil Kapadia, he took a detailed look at each of the 12 run plays the Redskins ran against the Eagles on Sunday and identified what the Eagles did, play by play, to stop the run. The upshot is that they didn't use as much "Wide 9" on the defensive line as they'd been using all season. The Eagles' coaches have explained that they tightened their line formations because they believed that to be the best way to combat the Redskins' zone-blocking run scheme. If you're an Eagles fan, it's got to be nice to know the coaches are willing to be flexible and not too stubborn to tinker with their philosophy when the situation calls for it.
And Jeff McLane muses on whether the Eagles could make a move in advance of Tuesday's trade deadline. Jeff points out the Eagles' obvious depth at cornerback, and surely they could trade from that group to address an area of need such as linebacker. And he mentions the depth on the defensive line as well, especially considering the possibility that it could get Brandon Graham back at some point after the bye. So we'll see. The Eagles could deal from strength if they were so inclined.
You know the Tuesday drill. We'll do our chat at noon ET. We'll have Power Rankings. We'll have Stock Watch. We'll have various other goodies sprinkled throughout the day. So keep coming back. We'll make it worth your while. I promise.