Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Breakfast links: Camp tour reaches Lehigh
By Dan Graziano
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- A new month and a new locale for the NFC East blog, which drove Tuesday night through Gettysburg and Harrisburg and goodness-knows-how-many other burgs to arrive here. I will be checking out the training camp of the dynastically-minded Philadelphia Eagles the next two days, but you know you'll still be getting plenty of my leftover reporting from Giants camp and Redskins camp while I'm here. (I head to Cowboys camp Monday and Tuesday). You also know you can always count on the links.
Much of the focus and analysis of the 2012 Eagles' secondary has focused on the likely benefit of playing Nnamdi Asomugha more in man coverage, where he excelled as a Raider. But moving Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the outside full-time is also likely to have major benefits, as Geoff Mosher explains.
The Eagles blitzed on just 18 percent of their plays last year (second-lowest figure in the league), Sheil Kapadia writes. And since they tied for the league lead in sacks anyway, don't expect that number to go up very much. The defensive scheme implemented last year by Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn relies on the four defensive linemen to create pressure on the quarterback, and the Eagles have the linemen to pull it off.
Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking run game works best with a versatile, heavily involved fullback in the backfield, so Darrel Young's hamstring strain is not good news. Shanahan said after practice Tuesday that Young would likely miss one to two weeks with the injury. That could give rookie Alfred Morris a chance to show his versatility, as he's said he'll play fullback if needed, but the Redskins have been using him in the tailback rotation and he's actually got a shot to emerge from camp as the starting tailback. (Hey, who doesn't?)
You can't watch Redskins practice these days and not notice some of the option offense they're running with Robert Griffin III at quarterback. It looked to me as though Roy Helu was most often the running back when they went to the option, but I didn't keep close track of that. I'm sure they'll run some option at some point with Griffin, but the impression I get is that they're just trying to throw everything at him right now and determine which stuff he can handle and run the best.
The Bill Nagy injury is disappointing for the Cowboys because Kevin Kowalski and Mackenzy Bernadeau are already hurt and that leaves pretty much no one to push Phil Costa at center. And even if they didn't want to replace Costa as their starting center, the Cowboys were hoping to throw some competition at him and maybe help him get better. That is not, currently, an option.
Calvin Watkins is calling Felix Jones, Andre Holmes and Brodney Pool -- the three Cowboys players who failed their camp-opening conditioning test -- "The Big Three," which I personally find hilarious. Anyway, he says there's a chance they get to run the thing again today. I hope they pass it. No one needs an Albert Haynesworth situation here.
New York Giants
Giants safety Tyler Sash got suspended for four games for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy and offered the same lame excuse everyone's using nowadays. Doesn't matter whether he's lying or not, Sash has already lost his appeal. I just marvel that every single guy who ever gets suspended for performance-enhancers is always innocent. No one ever comes out and says, "Yeah, I did it. I messed up. I'm sorry. Won't happen again." Anyway, between this and Terrell Thomas' fresh ACL injury, the likelihood of a Deon Grant return does seem to be increasing, no?
Gary Myers seems to believe that Jerry Jones' trash talking at a fan pep rally earlier this week will somehow "wake up" the Giants and enable them to beat the Cowboys in 2012. Couple of things. First, I was not aware that the Giants were not awake. Second, I just want to throw out the possibility that, if the Giants beat the Cowboys in 2012, it might have something to do with their having better players. For goodness' sake, people, it was a pep rally. Jones didn't break into the Giants' locker room and start telling all of the players they stink. It was a pep rally.