NFC East: Kareem Moore

Kurt Coleman misses no tackles

May, 19, 2011
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I know a lot of you are out there talking smack about the mailbag. I just know it. You're all like, "He says he's going to use the mailbag but it's just a bunch of baloney. He won't really. He's just new and trying to make nice."

Well, you're WRONG! And I'm about to show you just how wrong you are. And maybe even blow a little part of your mind in the process. Ready? Here goes:

Coleman
Coleman
Dipped into the mailbag this afternoon and found an interesting note from Damien (Philadelphia) pointing me to a story on Pro Football Focus about the best-tackling safeties in the league. Leading the list is Eagles part-timer Kurt Coleman, who apparently made all 24 tackles he attempted (and one assist) without missing one.

Now, 24's not a huge number, obviously. And Sheil Kapadia of philly.com's Moving the Chains blog did a good job of digging into Coleman's numbers to provide a decent analysis of what this means. Kapadia seems to conclude that Coleman could parlay this (as well as the likely departure of Quintin Mikell and the limited practice time rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett is likely to get thanks to the lockout) into a larger role in 2011. Coleman did a good job filling in last season when Nate Allen got hurt, made a contribution on special teams and could play his way into more playing time.

As for the rest of PFF's lists, only one other NFC East safety made the top 20. That would be the Giants' Kenny Phillips, with just 61 tackles and 11 assists to just five misses. But they also did a "bottom 20" list of the league's worst safeties in tackle attempts per miss, and the division had a couple of guys on that list. Washington's Kareem Moore managed 13 missed tackles against 42 tackles and 11 assists, giving him the fifth-worst ratio in the league among safeties with at least 15 tackle attempts. And the Giants' Deon Grant was 12th-worst, with 10 misses against 48 tackles and six assists.

Giants fans might get a chuckle, though, out of seeing former Giant C.C. Brown at the top (or, I guess, the bottom) of the bad list. Toiling in 2010 for the Lions, Brown missed 10 tackles while recording just 32 (and three assists). I know Giants fans who knew Brown by his unfortunate nickname ("Can't Cover") during his time in New York are sitting there thinking his initials ought to have been "C.T."

Anyway, Mailbag FTW. Thanks, Damien. Have a Dock Street IPA on me.

Breaking down the safeties: Washington

April, 25, 2011
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Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson examines the safeties of each NFC East team. Today: Washington Redskins

With the signing of Oshiomogho Atogwe, the Redskins are now loaded at safety and have an excellent complement to LaRon Landry. Landry really came into his own in 2010 until an Achilles tendon injury ended his season in Week 9.

Safety is the best position that Washington has and is a true area of strength -- assuming Landry returns to pre-injury form, which might be a bit optimistic considering that he also had shoulder surgery this offseason.

Atogwe is best in a deep center field role where he can key the quarterback and make plays on the ball in the air. He is a very average run-support player, but Atogwe has proved throughout his career that he has an excellent knack for getting his hands on the football. He was also used more as a blitzer last season, a role that he seemed to relish. He could really help what was a very poor 2010 pass defense. The addition of Atogwe, whom defensive coordinator Jim Haslett knows well from their time together in St. Louis, should allow Landry to freelance even more.

Landry has become the quintessential strong safety who thrives near the line of scrimmage. He is one of the biggest safeties in the league, but his coverage skills could use work. He has improved in that capacity, and the Redskins made better use of his unique skill set with Haslett in control of the defense. Landry can blitz and play the run as well as just about any safety in the league. The opposing offense now needs to account for him pre-snap. Landry can be very disruptive.

Kareem Moore was the starting free safety to open the season but didn’t do a lot to get excited about. He missed a lot of tackles and was too much of a liability in coverage, but Moore could be a solid backup to Atogwe.

Reed Doughty also has starting experience and could be a valuable player if Landry doesn’t recover as planned. Chris Horton also could factor in, but durability has become a major problem for this young strong safety. Washington doesn’t want Doughty or Horton covering the Jason Wittens of the world.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.

Final Word: NFC East

December, 24, 2010
12/24/10
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16 games:

Can the Giants shake off last Sunday's devastating loss to the Eagles? Giants quarterback Eli Manning requested time alone with his teammates Monday, and coach Tom Coughlin was happy to oblige. His speech was short, but it grabbed everyone's attention. Defensive tackle Barry Cofield told me Thursday that he couldn't believe how much energy he saw in the locker room this week. The Giants have done a nice job of recognizing their obvious failure late in last Sunday's game and then moving on to Green Bay. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has tried to get his unit to come out with a sense of urgency in recent weeks, and I think you'll see that against the Packers on Sunday afternoon. New York will want to take the crowd out of the game as soon as possible.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Evan PinkusEli Manning held a players-only meeting on Monday to address the failures of Sunday's loss to Philadelphia and to get the team focused on Green Bay.
Can Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson bounce back from an embarrassing performance against the Giants? Patterson has played well at times this season, but the Giants' wide receivers made him look silly in the first half. The Vikings still have firepower at receiver, so it will be interesting to see what happens if Patterson gets matched up with Sidney Rice. "I'm looking forward to it," Patterson said Friday. "As far as I'm concerned, that was two quarters, three plays, however you want to look at it. I finished that game, I came back in the second half. And I will finish the rest of the season." I think Patterson will do a lot better this week because the Eagles will likely have a better pass rush against the Vikings' offensive line.

Jason Garrett needs this win to finalize his campaign to become permanent head coach. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admitted last week that a loss to the Washington Redskins would've given him pause about Garrett's future. But the Cowboys pulled out a 33-30 win with a late field goal, so Jones didn't have to worry about that. Dallas should dominate the Cardinals, who are playing with a rookie quarterback. If the Cardinals somehow pull off a Christmas miracle and beat the Cowboys, fans will call for Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher as the next head coach. But I'd be really surprised if the Cowboys found a way to lose this game.

Eli Manning needs to have a big-time game in Green Bay. As I wrote in Thursday's column, Manning has struggled in December throughout much of his career (14-16). He played well against the Eagles last week, but still has a good shot at leading the league in interceptions. The good news for Giants fans is that Manning has wonderful memories of Lambeau Field. He's said that he actually enjoyed winning the '07 NFC Championship Game (played in Jan. '08) more than the Super Bowl. Those wins helped define his career, and I think he'll draw on that experience from three seasons ago in beating the Packers on Sunday.

Can Mike Shanahan get something accomplished in Jacksonville? We learned Friday that Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (hamstring, groin) will miss a game for the first time in his NFL career. Orakpo will be replaced by Rob Jackson, who will make the first start of his career. And there's also a chance that Kevin Barnes and Macho Harris could be the starting safeties. Reed Doughty is out with a concussion and Kareem Moore will be a game-time decision. I don't know if the Skins have much hope of winning, but Shanahan will have a chance to evaluate some young players. And it will be interesting to see how Rex Grossman performs following his excellent second half against the Dallas Cowboys. Shanahan will make massive roster changes this offseason, but a few players could help their cause with strong performances against Jacksonville.

Redskins are banged up today

October, 27, 2010
10/27/10
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The list of players who didn't practice fully Wednesday for the Washington Redskins is a little longer than usual. Here's the breakdown:

Right tackle Jammal Brown (hip), cornerback DeAngelo Hall (back), right tackle Stephon Heyer (ankle), safety LaRon Landry (Achilles), Donovan McNabb (hamstring), safety Kareem Moore (knee), linebacker Brian Orakpo (ankle), fullback Mike Sellers (foot) and running back Chad Simpson (hamstring).

Coach Mike Shanahan told reporters it would be a couple of weeks before running back Clinton Portis is able to return to practice from a groin injury. Ryan Torain has obviously done a nice job as the feature back and it's hard to imagine Shanahan replacing him in the starting lineup. Portis has said he'll accept whatever role he's asked to play, and I believe him.

Portis was playing well before he suffered the injury, but not at the level of what Torain's doing right now. We'll keep you updated on all the Skins injuries. I'd keep a close on Brown's hip injury. Shanahan admitted this week that it's been bothering the former Saints star.

With the other injuries, I think the Skins are simply being cautious. This is no time to be resting key players when you have a chance to improve to 5-3 heading into the bye.

Final Word: NFC East

October, 22, 2010
10/22/10
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about the Week 7 games.

Can Kevin Kolb stay on a roll against an opportunistic defense? You can throw for a lot of yards against the Titans, as the Giants and Cowboys showed. But the Titans' secondary is good at keeping teams out of the end zone. They've only given up six passing touchdowns this season and they have a knack for making plays in the red zone, as Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw knows all too well. Cortland Finnegan is one of the more underrated cornerbacks in the league, but I think Jeremy Maclin can get open against him. If the Titans sell out to stop Maclin, Kolb will look for Jason Avant and Brent Celek. Against a quick defensive line -- Dave Ball and Jason Babin have been outstanding -- Kolb will have to unload the ball quickly. LeSean McCoy has emerged as a big-time threat in the passing game, so look for him to try to get in matchups with former teammate Will Witherspoon in space. In a hostile environment, it's imperative that the Eagles have their quick game working early. I think Avant will be open on some drag routes because the Titans' safeties will let him cross their faces. If the Eagles have one turnover or less, I think they’ll win. The Titans feed off defensive takeaways. When they don't happen, this can look like a pretty ordinary team.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
Aaron M. Sprecher/Icon SMITony Romo may lean heavily on the short-passign game to keep the Giants' defensive line at bay.
The Cowboys must be aware of Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora at all times. Umenyiora has turned into the same beast we remember from '07. The Cowboys are going to have to help Marc Colombo against Umenyiora because of his speed and ability to get low around the edge. The former Pro Bowler has eight sacks and a staggering seven forced fumbles on the season. When Mathias Kiwanuka went down with a neck injury following the Titans game, Umenyiora raised his level of play significantly. And as Justin Tuck likes to point out, defensive tackle Barry Cofield is having a remarkable season. It's a good thing the Giants weren't able to complete that draft-day trade with him. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has great respect for the Giants' defensive line, and that's why you'll likely see a steady dose of screens again this week. I do think Romo will try to see if he can get Witten matched up against Giants middle linebacker Jonathan Goff early in this game. By the way, Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) and Tuck (ankle) missed Friday's practice, but they're both expected to play.

The Redskins can't fall asleep in the secondary. You would hope the Skins have watched film of what the Giants did to the Bears three weeks ago. Jay Cutler was under siege from the opening snap of that game. He's really bad about holding the ball too long. If outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Lorenzo Alexander can make Cutler uncomfortable, he's a mistake waiting to happen. This is a game where you always must be looking for the strip. The Bears killed the Cowboys by dumping the ball to Matt Forte and Devin Hester in the quick passing game. That set up a deep ball to Johnny Knox. The Bears don't have possession receivers, but they do have wideouts who can fly. Kareem Moore and LaRon Landry must make sure they're getting proper depth. And DeAngelo Hall must stop questioning his coaches long enough to have his head in the game Sunday and not give up any deep balls.

Can the Cowboys cut down on their penalties against the Giants? Coach Wade Phillips hired officials for practice this week in an effort to identify some of the problems. The Cowboys lead the league by averaging 80.8 yards per game from penalties. They're called for nearly 10 penalties per game. The Giants were on a similar pace earlier in the season, but they've eliminated some of those mistakes. All this talk about how well the Cowboys have played from Phillips and Jerry Jones is falling on deaf ears. If they have 10 penalties against the Giants on Monday, I think they'll lose.

Eagles linebackers must be on their game against Titans RB Chris Johnson. The Eagles were solid against Frank Gore and Michael Turner, but they realize that Johnson has a different gear. He's having a down year by his ridiculous standards, but he's still capable of going off for 170 yards and three touchdowns against pretty much any defense in the league. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has preached the importance of "gap-sound" football this week in practice.

"As soon as you think you have him stopped, he cuts it back and he hits a seam and he's off to the races,” McDermott told reporters Thursday.

The Titans are the rare team that will stay with the running game if they fall behind by 10 points or so. Honestly, it's probably worse for the Eagles if Kerry Collins starts for Vince Young. With Young, you know he's only going to throw the ball about 20 times. Collins is still capable of having a big day in the passing game, though. But the Titans are smart enough never to abandon the running game.

Tracking Michael Vick's injury

October, 4, 2010
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PHILADELPHIA -- There have been reports this morning that Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has broken some ribs, but the team hasn't confirmed anything. Vick was tohave an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the damage to his sore chest and ribs.

He could barely button his dress shirt after the game and he chose not to visit with reporters. Until further notice, it looks like Kevin Kolb is once again the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson told reporters Sunday night that he'd just warned Vick to stop taking so much punishment moments before the quarterback was sandwiched near the Redskins' goal line by Kareem Moore and DeAngelo Hall.

"It was tough, man, especially because I kept telling him he don't need to take hits like he's taking, especially being a quarterback and how much he means to our offense so far in these early weeks," said Jackson. "It's just like, 'Man, you can't take hits like that.' So it's kind of disappointing to see him taking hits like that, but hopefully he'll learn."

Here's the latest report from ESPN.com on Vick's injury. I'll be boarding a flight to Dallas soon, but we'll let you know if there are any updates.

Will Haynesworth be active versus Rams?

September, 24, 2010
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Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan doesn't want to reveal his plans for Albert Haynesworth on Sunday at this point. But with Haynesworth having participated fully in practice for a couple days, it's hard to imagine Shanahan keeping him on the sideline. Actually, anything's possible with these two.

"You could go with five or six [linemen] or a combination of different people," Shanahan said. "Jim [Haslett], in his history has gone with five defensive linemen. We've gone with six all through preseason [and] the regular season games. It obviously depends on what our game plan is."

The best news for Redskins fans is that safety Kareem Moore appears to be ready for action. I think he'll make an immediate difference in the back end of that defense.

Skins' Kareem Moore puts on the pads

September, 16, 2010
9/16/10
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Washington Redskins safety Kareem Moore practiced in pads Thursday for the first time since he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 23 and there's a chance he could play against the Houston Texans on Sunday. Moore made a huge move in training camp and nailed down the starting position opposite LaRon Landry before suffering the injury. Reed Doughty's done a decent job in his absence, but he's not as good in coverage. Here's what coach Mike Shanahan said about Moore's return Thursday:

"Looked pretty good, like he's getting better," said Shanahan. "You've got to start working out before you can start going through football related drills, but you could see his agility is coming back and hopefully it won't be long."

I would be surprised if Moore plays Sunday, but there's a good chance he'd be ready the following week. In other injury news, Albert Haynesworth sprained his ankle Wednesday and didn't participate in team drills. But since he's played games after not practicing for years, I'd expect for Haynesworth to be in the mix. The Redskins need him to help slow down Texans running back Arian Foster, who ran for 231 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts.

I'd expect the Redskins to do a much better job against Foster than the Colts, who've lost Bob Sanders for the 17th consecutive season.

Shanahan's had enough Haynesworth talk

August, 23, 2010
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If you were waiting for Mike Shanahan to angrily respond to Albert Haynesworth's latest rant, you're going to be disappointed. The Redskins head coach said the two met Monday, but he didn't want to elaborate on that conversation.

Shanahan
Shanahan
Haynesworth
Haynesworth
"If you guys want to talk about football, we'll talk about football," said Shanahan. "But to keep on talking about things outside of football to me is completely ridiculous. I did have a conversation with him. If you want to talk about football, we'll talk about football."

I'm not sure how the Haynesworth topic is "outside of football," but it's apparent that Shanahan's sick of the topic. Perhaps he and Haynesworth found some common ground Monday, but I have my doubts. This is a forced marriage that needs to end sooner than later. If Haynesworth's still on the roster in November, I'll be surprised.

Unfortunately, the Haynesworth story overshadowed a more significant development over the weekend. Safety Kareem Moore underwent knee surgery and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Moore had a tremendous camp and he was expected to start at free safety. The Redskins responded to the injury by quickly signing veteran safety Tyrone Carter.

We'll see if former starter Chris Horton can take advantage of this opportunity and play his way back in the lineup. I'm not sure why his stock has dropped so much since the start of the '08 season.

Kareem Moore's having a great camp

August, 9, 2010
8/09/10
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One of the things that surprised me about Redskins camp Thursday and Friday is how safety Kareem Moore seemed to get to every ball. As a former sixth-round pick in '08, he was only thrown into the lineup last season when there were injuries. Now, he looks like a legitimate starter. The Washington Post talked to Moore about the progress he's made and I'll have more on him in Tuesday's Redskins Camp Confidential.

Jim Haslett hasn't come out and said it, but the Redskins believe they could have one of the best secondaries in the division. LaRon Landry's playing closer to the line of scrimmage and cornerback Carlos Rogers is playing with a lot more confidence. Rogers had lost trust in the organization based on the way his playing time was taken away, but now he's making a lot of plays. But it's Moore who has been the biggest surprise.

"He's athletic and he's big, he's 215 pounds," Haslett said. "He can run, he's a playmaker, I think he'll tackle. I've seen him tackle. I think he'll be a good guy in the back end and he'll give you some options."

I'm not sure what happened to Chris Horton. He's still on the roster, but it seems like he's bowed out of the competition for a starting spot.

The Observation Deck: Redskins style

August, 6, 2010
8/06/10
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ASHBURN, Va. -- If Albert Haynesworth ever qualifies to participate in one of Mike Shanahan's practices, I actually think he'd enjoy himself. Shanahan asks his players to pour everything they have into morning sessions before hosting jog-throughs in the afternoons. And judging from his red-faced appearance at today's news conference, the head coach is about ready for this episode to end.

The MRI on Albert Haynesworth's knee came back negative, and the Washington Post's Jason Reid reported Friday morning that the defensive lineman's tearing it up on the treadmill. So why can this man not make it through two 300-yard shuttle runs that were easily handled by ESPN's Mike Golic? Your guess is as good as mine. One reporter excitedly noted that Haynesworth had appeared to increase his work in individual drills Friday.

"He's been doing the same thing," snapped Shanahan. "He's been getting a few reps and individual work -- the same thing he's been doing."

When I sit down with Shanahan this evening, I'm not going to lead with Haynesworth. I'm going to ask the coach to compare this Redskins team to some of his Broncos teams. And I'm curious to pick his brain about why he thought Donovan McNabb was the perfect fit for the Redskins. The guy's not known for his accuracy, and that's something Shanahan values. Now let's take a look at what caught my eye in practice Friday morning:
  • I talked to one longtime Redskins reporter who actually thinks Larry Johnson will have more carries than Clinton Portis this season. I don't see that happening unless Portis suffers an injury, but it's obvious that Johnson's feeling really good early in camp. He's finishing off every run and he's actually shown a burst at times. He also appears to be really comfortable with his new surroundings. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine Willie Parker making this roster. He's not getting many reps and it just doesn't look like Shanahan's giving him much of a chance. Ryan Torrain is receiving more carries than Parker from what I can tell.
  • Mike Shanahan doesn't miss a beat during practice. During drills, he'll stand away from everyone and just study different things. He also takes mental notes of which players don't hustle between drills and calls out their names at the end of practice. Those players are forced to run extra sprints. As one local beat reporter put it, "The adults are in charge again." I liked Jim Zorn, but he probably gave his players too much latitude.
  • Lorenzo Alexander and Andre Carter have a nice little battle going on at left outside linebacker. Alexander has been running with the first team, but Carter, 31, will get plenty of playing time. You knew Carter would have a little trouble in coverage, but he's actually been step for step with running backs on a couple of occasions. No matter who wins the starting role, the other guy will receive plenty of playing time. By the way, Carter told me after practice that he thinks David Diehl's the best left tackle he's faced in the Beast.
  • Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is the best thing that could've happened to Carlos Rogers' career. The cornerback thought his career in Washington was over, but now Haslett believes he can turn him into an Antoine Winfield-type player. Haslett will take advantage of Rogers' size and he'll send him on a lot more blitzes.
  • Brian Orakpo told me after practice that Haslett's playbook has at least 20 more blitzes than Greg Blache's version. He said it was a little overwhelming at first, but now he's not thinking as much.
  • Kedric Golston and Adam Carriker were running with the first-team defense Friday. It looked like the Redskins were working on their dime package, which features two down linemen. If Haynesworth passes the conditioning test in the next month or so, he'll likely see a lot of time at right defensive end.
  • Torrain could end up serving as the third-down back, but he can't drop a perfect swing pass as he did Friday.
  • When former Cowboys receiver Joey Galloway broke free on a deep ball, Haslett just about lost it. "How many [expletive] times do we have to do this?" he shoutd in the general direction of safety LaRon Landry. By the way, Landry has a very difficult time not destroying receivers across the middle -- even when players are in shorts. In Friday's morning session, Landry pulled up at the last possible moment when Chris Cooley caught a McNabb pass across the middle. It looks like one of Cooley's brothers (Taylor?) was conducting some interviews for the tight end's blog after practice. They were focusing on Santana Moss.
  • Cornerback Justin Tryon made a nice recovery on a fly pattern to Roydell Williams. At this moment, Moss and Galloway are your starting wide receivers. I think it's the weakest part of this team, but Moss tried to convince me otherwise during a 20-minute visit following practice.
  • If you need a Rudy type player to root for, let me point you in the direction of former Kansas State receiver Brandon Banks. At 5-foot-7, Banks isn't exactly a red-zone target. But he's quick and appears to have good hands. I'm interested to see if he can make some plays in the preseason. I'd love to see the little fella get some reps returning punts. He's not very sturdy, though. He caught a short pass Friday and then a shove from cornerback Kevin Barnes almost sent him into a crowd of corporate folks. I think a stiff wind might have the same effect on young Banks.
  • John Beck rolled right and fired a bullet to tight end Lee Vickers in team drills. Former TCU linebacker Robert Henson reacted with some loud expletives because he came close to breaking up the pass. Perhaps Henson realizes that Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin will do something similar to his Frogs in Week 3. Beck botched a handoff to Portis in Friday's practice. He didn't last with the Dolphins because of a side-arm motion that led to a lot of balls being deflected. If Dolphins quarterbacks coach David Lee can't fix a problem, then I'm skeptical of the quarterback having much of a future in the league. Lee has worked with Tony Romo, Chad Henne and Tim Tebow (Senior Bowl).
  • Haslett is trying to change the mentality of this defense. You'll hear the word "strip" over and over again in practice. Haslett wants one defender to strip the ball and another to come over the top and go for the scoop. There's an emphasis on takeaways in almost every drill.
  • Shanahan thinks that Jammal Brown and Malcolm Kelly will return to practice Monday, but he's not certain about that. I get the feeling that the Redskins are starting to lose patience with Kelly, who is nursing a tight hamstring. Late in Friday's practice, the receiver would've broken away from the peloton had he not been on a stationary bike. It's not like the guy has a bad attitude or anything. McNabb and Moss have both taken a special interest in the former Oklahoma star, but he has a hard time staying on the field.
  • Grapevine, Texas, native Richard Bartel continues to throw the ball well in practice. Everyone's focused on Beck since he arrived, but Bartel's the backup who seems to take advantage of every rep.
  • Brian Orakpo said he had some lofty personal goals for this season, but he's not willing to go on the record at this point. He spent much of our conversation talking about the Big 12 finding a way to stay together. With Nebraska defecting to the Big 10, Orakpo says this year's game between his Texas Longhorns and Adam Carriker's Cornhuskers will carry added significance. "I'm still trying to recover from when they almost beat us," said Orakpo, referring to the Big 12 title game.
  • Safety Kareem Moore is having an excellent training camp and it will be tough to keep him off the field. The Redskins have actually developed some nice depth at safety. But on that topic, I'm not sure what's happened to Chris Horton. Two years ago, he took the league by storm when injuries forced him onto the field. Now, he's barely getting any reps in practice.
  • I thought left tackle Trent Williams looked pretty quick in team drills. He tweaked his hip a little bit in practice, but Shanahan thinks he'll be fine.

Final Word: NFC East

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
4:20
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 17:

[+] EnlargeDeSean Jackson
AP Photo/Bill KostrounThe Cowboys will have a difficult time covering Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson.
I thought we had looked at every conceivable angle of Eagles-Cowboys this week, but let's go even deeper. I'm interested to see how the Cowboys attempt to defend wide receiver DeSean Jackson. He wasn't effective in a 20-16 loss at the Linc and the Cowboys did a really nice job of keeping someone behind him at all times. Since that game, cornerback Mike Jenkins has been playing at a Pro Bowl level. You'll see him try to get a good jam on Jackson and then you'll see safeties Ken Hamlin and Gerald Sensabaugh helping over the top. One of the underrated matchups will be Jason Avant against cornerback Orlando Scandrick. That will be an important contest because Avant is capable of making big plays.

I'm curious to see how much pride the Giants display after a disgraceful performance against the Panthers. Will the defense stand up and play for embattled defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan? The host Vikings are a team that desperately needs a win heading into the playoffs after a December collapse.

This is the type of game we'll find out about some of the Giants' young players. They need players such as Jonathan Goff and Bruce Johnson to make plays. And after being gashed by Jonathan Stewart, let's see how the defense reacts against another elite runner in Adrian Peterson.

The Redskins appear to have little if any chance of winning this game at the Chargers. But let's take a look at how right guard Edwin Williams and safety Kareem Moore play.

These are young guys being asked to play well in starting roles. And you could even see Lendy Holmes starting at safety now that LaRon Landry's been ruled out.

This has to be coach Jim Zorn's last game, although he's in full denial mode. Will his players put it on the line for him one more time or fold like they did against the Giants? We're about to find out.

I'm anxious to see how the Eagles use their linebackers. Akeem Jordan saw the majority of the snaps at middle linebacker last week. He can't cover Jason Witten in the middle of the field. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermoot could go with Will Witherspoon and Jordan as the only linebackers if he wants to try to nickel cornerback Joselio Hanson on Witten.

Jeremiah Trotter can help blow up the running game at middle linebacker but he would get abused by Witten. McDermott has some interesting decisions to make.

I could see Eli Manning getting in a shootout with Brett Favre. And this could be Hakeem Nicks' game of the season. He's shown the ability to make plays after contact. If the offensive line can give Manning time, I think he'll light up this Vikings' secondary.

I'm also very interested to see how Ahmad Bradshaw performs as the feature back. The Vikings have an excellent defensive line but there will be some cutback lanes available. If he has a big day, Giants fans will spend the offseason calling for him to be the starter in 2010.

I think these teams will combine for at least 68 points. Just call it a hunch.

My thoughts on Skins' win over Pittsburgh

August, 23, 2009
8/23/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

I don't think it's time to panic about Jason Campbell going 1-of-7 for 10 yards in a 17-13 preseason win over the Steelers. But it's important that Campbell finds a rhythm in the third preseason game -- and he knows that.

Campbell missed Malcolm Kelly on a deep ball and he was high on a throw to Santana Moss. I think he was pressing a bit because he knew he was only going to play three series. The good news is that Washington's running game looked strong throughout the game. OK, here are a few things that caught my eye:

  • Brian Orakpo has been sensational through two preseason games. I enjoyed watching him playing with the backups in the second quarter. At that point, he was obviously the best player on the field and he even looked solid in coverage. Orakpo embarrassed his former college teammate at Texas, Tony Hills, in the second quarter. Orakpo used a bull rush to push Hills back in the pocket. He knocked Hills about 3 feet into the air.
  • Jim Zorn made it sound like Campbell had a nice evening. Zorn praised Campbell for his decision making and thought he managed the team well. Obviously Zorn want to make sure Campbell's confidence level remains high. Campbell put on a brave face for reporters after the game, but I assure you he's beating himself up over the six incompletions.
  • How can you keep Marcus Mason or Marko Mitchell off this roster? Mason's one of the best preseason backs this organization has had. On Saturday, he showed the speed we've grown accustomed to seeing, but he also mixed in some power. He sent a Steelers safety flying at the end of one play. Mitchell made the nice touchdown catch from Chase Daniel. He hesitated at first in order to give Daniel some space to throw the ball. Then Mitchell simply won a jump ball. The former Nevada receiver might end up being the fifth receiver.
  • I still think Devin Thomas will make some mental errors, but he's capable of making big plays. I liked the twisting catch he made Saturday night. He has all the tools, but he needs every rep in the preseason he can get.
  • Scary moment in the first half when fullback Mike Sellers was writhing in pain with a knee injury. The good news is that Sellers only has a bruised knee. He's such a vital part of the Redskins' running game. They would really struggle without him.
  • Reed Doughty was everywhere . I pretty much wrote the guy off last season, but he's actually had a solid camp. He made a couple of open-field tackles that were very impressive and he looked confident in the secondary.
  • Is it too early to start worrying about the Skins' awful coverage units? They looked especially bad in punt coverage. They didn't have anything close to containment on the edges.
  • I used to watch Redskins safety Lendy Holmes when he was in high school. The former Oklahoma Sooner was one of the surest tacklers on the field Saturday. A lot of rookies look a little wide-eyed at this point. That's not the way Holmes operates.
  • I love the fact that safety Kareem Moore is a high-energy guy, but he needs to play under control. It seems like Moore's constantly going for the interception. Moore and another '08 draft pick, Rob Jackson, have a tendency to overrun plays.
  • I'd cut D.J. Hackett the first chance I had. It's not that I think he's a bad player, but right now, he's simply taking up space. I'd much rather see Mitchell, Thomas and Kelly getting the majority of the reps.
  • Daniel had a really effective outing. I think he has the edge on Colt Brennan at this point. And yes, I know that hurts at lot of you guys.
  • On the interception that Todd Collins threw, Thomas needs to come back for the ball. He sort of froze on his comeback route, and that allowed former Colts cornerback Keiwan Ratliff to make a really nice play on the ball.
  • If you're Brennan, you can't throw the ball into traffic in the red zone. I'm sure Zorn was incensed with that turnover. Just an awful decision by Brennan.
  • Kelly does a really nice job of catching the ball away from his body. He did some nice things in Saturday's game, but the best thing he does is catch the ball consistently. Thomas might have the most upside, but Kelly's showing the most maturity right now.
  • Former CFL star Dominique Dorsey has to make this team as a return specialist. And he's halfway home. He had some outstanding returns. The Skins need to reserve a spot on the roster for him. He's that good as a return guy -- and he runs with a little power.

Inactives for tonight's game: Taylor up, Springs down

September, 4, 2008
9/04/08
6:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The biggest news of course for the Redskins is that defensive end Jason Taylor will play in tonight's game against the Giants. Because of that, rookie defensive end Rob Jackson will be inactive, and I think Jim Zorn's willing to live with that.

The other inactives for the Redskins: Emergency QB Colt Brennan, WR Malcolm Kelly, CB Shawn Springs, S Kareem Moore, LB Alfred Fincher, G/T Chad Rinehart, TE Fred Davis and Jackson. With Springs down, Fred Smoot will start across from Carlos Rogers.

No real surprises for the Giants: K Lawrence Tynes (we knew that), RB Reuben Droughns (nice special teams guy), CB Terrell Thomas, CB Sam Madison (that means R.W. McQuarters is going), LB Jonathan Goff, T Adam Koets, DE Dave Tollefson (hello McDougle) and WR Mario Manningham.

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