NFC East: Garrett Reid
Nothing that happened Sunday, when backup quarterback Kirk Cousins went into Cleveland and played very well in the Redskins' fifth straight win, changes the fact that Robert Griffin III will play once the team doctors say his knee is healthy enough for him to do so. That could well be this week, but the Redskins say they're not going to hold Griffin back out of abundant caution just because Cousins looked good. There's a clear hierarchy on the depth chart at quarterback in Washington, even though the Redskins feel good about their backup.
One of the reasons for the Redskins' success this year is the stability and health of their offensive line. But this week, center Will Montgomery has a knee sprain, right tackle Tyler Polumbus has a concussion and backup lineman Jordan Black has been suspended for four games for performance-enhancing drug use. Sudden changes and a lack of depth on the line would be ill-timed.
So it appears that team owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett didn't know the players had arranged for Josh Brent to be on the sideline for Sunday's game. I wrote Monday that Brent's public presence there, so soon after the drunken-driving accident that killed friend and teammate Jerry Brown and has Brent facing intoxication manslaughter charges, sent the wrong message. And while not knowing he was going to be there doesn't absolve the Cowboys' leaders of blame (since they probably should have known), it helps explain why it happened. The players aren't responsible for the messaging, and aren't the ones who need to care how something like this looks. Jones and Garrett are, and it sounds as though they'll assume some control over this issue moving forward.
The Cowboys continue to monitor the fractured left index finger of top wide receiver Dez Bryant, which didn't prevent him from continuing his touchdown-catch streak Sunday. Bryant's determination to play through that pain is having a positive effect in the locker room, Garrett says.
New York Giants
Sunday was not a good day for Tom Coughlin and the Giants, but once Coughlin looked at the playoff picture Sunday night and learned that his team could still reach the playoffs by winning their final two games, he felt better. This is a key part of Coughlin's overall message to his players about their ability to create their own opportunities, and you can be certain he'll spend this week drilling them on the fact that they control their own fate.
Starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw expects to return from his knee injury and play Sunday in Baltimore. But as we all know (and learned again last week), Bradshaw doesn't get to make that call. So the Giants aren't yet sure they'll have him back for this very important game.
Phil Sheridan tackles the disturbing issues raised by the news that steroids were found in Garrett Reid's dorm room at training camp at the time of his death, and says the news casts a poor light on the Eagles' judgment in their decision to have Andy Reid's troubled son around the team.
The Eagles could have running back LeSean McCoy back for Sunday's game against the Redskins, and of course he'll play if he's cleared. There will still likely be carries for fumble-prone rookie Bryce Brown, as the Eagles contend that Brown needs the experience. But this isn't like the quarterback situation, where Michael Vick is riding the bench behind rookie Nick Foles. The Eagles signed McCoy to a long-term deal last summer. Unlike Vick, he's a key part of their future. They're not going to tell him his season's over even though he's healthy enough to go.
Dave in New Brunswick, N.J. (woo-hoo!), says he's hearing conflicting reports on the health of New York Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty. Some (including Canty) are saying he'll be back in time for Week 1. Others are saying, according to Dave, that he could be out until November or all year as he recovers. Dave would like to know what the deal is.
Dan Graziano: Dave, in a case like this, I don't think you can trust what the player is saying. As I understand it, Canty had a more significant surgery than was initially thought, and the timetable for his recovery remains murky. Until you see him back on the field, I think you (and the Giants) have to operate as though you can't count on him. This is why it's important to be watching guys like Marvin Austin and Shaun Rogers, who provide intriguing depth for the Giants at the position.
Craig in Harrisburg, Pa., wants to know why right guard Chris Chester hasn't been mentioned in any of the dire reports about the Washington Redskins' offensive line. And Mike in Va., suggests that the offensive line concerns might be overblown, since he doesn't expect Robert Griffin III to operate strictly as a pocket passer and the line is likely going to be have to be athletic and operate on the move anyway.
DG: Mike, I agree with you and I think the Redskins share your belief that Griffin's running ability will help ameliorate the issues with the line. At this point they really just want to get five guys healthy and playing together for a stretch of time -- no matter which five they are. As for Chester, Craig, it's probably a no-news-is-good-news kind of thing. He'll likely be better in his second year in the Redskins' system, and right now he's healthy, which sets him apart from a few of their other linemen.
Tyler in Trenton, N.J. (woot woot), asks if it's "out of the question" that Philadelphia Eagles backup running back Dion Lewis could be the second-best running back in the NFC East this year. Tyler speculates that Lewis' role could be expanded to the point where he's used the way Darren Sproles is used in New Orleans.
DG: I guess nothing's ever "out of the question," Tyler, but I'd be surprised. Lewis looks like a fine prospect, but he's not a finished product. Starting running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and DeMarco Murray in New York and Dallas are very good players -- better backs, at this point, than Lewis. And Evan Royster, Roy Helu and Tim Hightower in Washington all have shown more in their careers than Lewis has. I can understand the high hopes for someone with Lewis' raw ability, but I'd caution against excessive expectations in his second year playing behind the excellent LeSean McCoy.
Michael from Minot, N.D., wants to know why Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett likes Kevin Ogletree so much when he's "never shown an ability to actually play the game" and guys like Tim Benford and Cole Beasley are doing good things in camp as they try to get into that No. 3 receiver mix.
DG: Garrett's had Ogletree longer and has clearly seen something to indicate he has a chance to blossom. Perhaps he just knows him better than he knows those other guys and has convinced himself he can make him a success story. Perhaps he believes the best way to maximize Ogletree's chances to blossom is to continue to offer him praise and encouragement in public. Perhaps they're trying to pump him up so they can trade him somewhere. I do not know how the Cowboys' No. 3 receiver situation will shake out, but you are correct that Ogletree is the first name Garrett offers when he discusses candidates.
Oh, and Nick from Wilmington, you are correct. The Garrett Reid news did dominate this week's Eagles coverage on the blog, and I think for good reason. But have no fear, I still have plenty in my notebook from my trip to Lehigh, and I won't forget to use it. Thanks for asking so nicely.
New York Giants
Justin Tuck got a kick out of Clay Matthews' comments that the Packers "beat themselves" in their playoff loss to the Giants last year. Just so ridiculous. I mean, no team played its best football against the Giants in last year's playoffs, and you know why? Because the Giants played absolutely great. They beat the Packers by 17 points, in Green Bay. Matthews has nothing to talk about.
The Giants made their assistant coaches available this week. Here's tight ends coach Mike Pope on Martellus Bennett, Bear Pascoe, Adrien Robinson and the idea that the Giants ask their tight ends to be blockers first before they can think about using them as receivers.
Michael Vick was close with Garrett Reid, and would do anything for Andy Reid, and so it's no surprise that he's emotional about Garrett's death Sunday. Vick said Wednesday that he would dedicate the season to the memory of his coach's son.
Sheil Kapadia took a shot at a 53-man roster projection. His doesn't include Chris Polk, Joselio Hanson, Chad Hall or Colt Anderson. Interesting stuff. Anderson was pretty important to them as a special-teamer last year, but if he can't do anything else, you do have to wonder.
Rich Campbell's five questions about tonight's Redskins preseason opener touch on Robert Griffin III, Chris Cooley, the safeties, the offensive line and the running backs. I'd say that about covers it. I know I'm going to watch.
Mike Jones writes that the competition for starting spots at safety remains wide open, and that some names you might not expect are in the mix.
Brandon Carr tells Calvin Watkins he's still "a work in progress," which is of course always a good frame of mind in which to keep oneself. Personally, I thought he looked like one of the best players on the field in the practices I watched this week.
And Tim MacMahon writes that the injuries the Cowboys have had to cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Mike Jenkins have hampered defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's creativity this camp.
Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid returned to the practice field Wednesday, just three days after the death of his son Garrett and one day after the funeral. Speaking to reporters after the Eagles' morning walkthrough, Reid said he'd been "humbled" by the outpouring of support this week and that he was going back to work because he felt it was the right thing to do.
"I'm a football coach. That's what I do. I know my son wouldn't want it any other way. He loved the Philadelphia Eagles," Reid said.
Reid showed remarkable strength during the news conference, which I imagine is showing through as he spends time around his team today and in the coming days. There were a couple of cringe-inducing questions, including one about whether Garrett Reid's death could serve as a rallying point for the team. But Reid answered that one with dignity saying he'd prefer it be a rallying point for others dealing with substance abuse problems and for families dealing with grief and loss.
Reid will coach the Eagles in their preseason opener Thursday night in Philadelphia against the Steelers. The team will hold a moment of silence for Garrett before the game, and the players will wear commemorative patches with his initials on them. I have to believe the fans in attendance will greet Andy Reid as warmly as they ever have when he walks onto that field.
Lurie, who teared up speaking of the team's love for its coach, said that as far as the Eagles are concerned, Andy Reid can stay away from football as long as he wants, "but that's not what he wants, he wants to get right back in there." Lurie said "all indications are" that Reid will be on the sideline Thursday night when the Eagles open their preseason at home against the Steelers.
I can't say whether it'd be a surprise to see Reid back coaching so soon after suffering the most devastating loss imaginable. I have no idea what the man must be feeling, and as I've said a few times here in the past couple of days, I hope like hell I never do. All we can do is guess, and I guess it would be tempting to get back to work and have something on which to focus your mind and your energy. On the flip side, I don't think anybody would blame Reid if he decided he could never go to work again. Situations like this require people to make their own, intensely personal decisions about what to do and how to conduct themselves, and if Reid thinks it's the right thing to do to return to coaching as early as Thursday, I'm sure he'll be met with nothing but love and support from his players, his bosses and the fans in attendance at Lincoln Financial Field.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The thought occurred to me recently that it had been a while since we'd heard about Andy Reid's boys getting in trouble. The topic barely came up during the '08 season after it had dominated the buildup to the '07 season.
But now Reid's eldest son, Garrett, has been sent to Graterford Prison, according to this Daily News report. The Montgomery County district attorney said Reid failed a drug test at a local halfway house. Initial reports indicated that Reid's son had been in some type of altercation at the halfway house, but the district attorney didn't confirm that.
No matter what happened, it's another sad chapter in what has become a sad story of addiction. There were some people who suggested in 2007 that Reid take some time off to be with his family. His 24-year-old son, Britt, also spent time in a county drug-court program.
Sadly, Reid is now used to his sons being in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. I have no doubt that he's spent time and resources trying to get them help. At some point, though, it's up to them to become productive citizens.