NFC East: Maurkice Pouncey

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Missing practice nine days before the Super Bowl isn't the biggest or most alarming deal in the world, but it's still better to be healthy enough to practice than to not be. To that end, we offer you an update on who's on the field and who isn't, both here and up in Foxborough.

For the Giants, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, cornerbacks Corey Webster and Will Blackmon and linebacker Jacquian Williams all missed practice for the second straight day. Nicks injured his shoulder Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, but he returned to the game and said Thursday that he wasn't worried about missing the Super Bowl. Webster has been dealing with a hamstring problem for a while now, but he played Sunday and should be good to go. Blackmon has a knee injury. Williams, who forced the fumble that set up the Giants' overtime game-winning field goal Sunday in San Francisco, has a foot injury, and there has been no update on his status. If it's serious enough to keep him out of the Super Bowl, that would hurt the Giants on special teams and in coverage against the Patriots' tight ends.

Speaking of which...

Up in Foxborough, the folks at report, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was absent for the start of practice. Gronkowski injured his ankle Sunday in the AFC Championship Game, and the Patriots have been typically tight-lipped about his status. But Gronkowski's father told a Buffalo TV station that the injury is a high ankle sprain, and if that's the case his status for the Feb. 5 game is in doubt.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey missed last year's Super Bowl after suffering a high ankle sprain in the AFC Championship Game. Two years ago, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney had an ankle injury and started the Super Bowl but was unable to maintain his effectiveness in the second half. The odds are good that Gronkowski will find a way to suit up and play in the game, but the question is how much the ankle will limit him. This is likely to be the dominant daily storyline next week in Indianapolis.

Giants center David Baas and running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who missed Thursday's practice with neck and foot injuries, respectively, were back at practice Friday for the Giants.
PHILADELPHIA -- With the Eagles ranking 19th in the league in points allowed in 2009 -- their lowest ranking of the Andy Reid era -- the natural assumption is that Philadelphia's primary target is defense, especially in the early rounds of the draft.

But if they are unsuccessful in pulling off a trade up from the 24th pick in the first round, new general manager Howie Roseman could shift his focus to the interior of the offensive line, where starting center Jamaal Jackson is still rehabbing his surgically repaired knee and will not be ready for the Sept. 12 opener at Lincoln Financial Field against the Green Bay Packers. Roseman said Jackson's return is "fluid" right now -- not a good sign.

Backup Nick Cole started the final two games against the Cowboys and did not hold up well against Jay Ratliff and the rest of the Cowboys' D-Line. After Cole, the pickings are slim.

So, if the Eagles can't move from No. 24 spot in the first round, there could be two options available: Florida center Maurkice Pouncey, who is represented by Michael Vick's agent, Joel Segal, or, Mike Iupati, a guard from Idaho. He is a mauler who impressed Eagles coaches in a series of personal interviews and workouts.

Sal Paolantonio, who covers the NFL for ESPN, is the author of “How Football Explains America” (Triumph Books: Chicago).

Draft Watch: NFC East

April, 21, 2010
NFC dream/Plan B: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each week leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Dream scenario/Plan B.

Dallas Cowboys

I guess a dream scenario would be someone like Texas safety Earl Thomas slipping all the way to No. 27, but we know that will never happen. So a more realistic "dream" might be a team behind the Cowboys desperately wanting safety Taylor Mays. I don't believe the Cowboys want Mays, but he would be tempting if he's still there at No. 27. If the Cowboys can bail out on that pick and land an extra one, that would be a positive scenario. If none of that works, the Cowboys will stay at home and take someone such as USC left tackle Charles Brown or Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty. We know they love safety Nate Allen, but No. 27 is too high for him.

New York Giants

The dream scenario is Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain slipping to No. 15. But that seems like a stretch at this point. If McClain's not there, the Giants will be looking at defensive tackle Dan Williams. They need another defensive tackle who can hold at the point of attack. Williams would be that player. He'd be an immediate upgrade to Rocky Bernard and he would likely push Chris Canty. General manager Jerry Reese loves creating competition in training camp. I think Idaho guard Mike Iupati could also be an option in a Plan B scenario.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles would be thrilled with Texas safety Earl Thomas, but he'll never slide to No. 24. And that's why I'm sticking with Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson as the Plan B. He has the tools to be a starter in the league for several years. Another strong Plan B would be Florida center/guard Maurkice Pouncey. Andy Reid would be thrilled to land Pouncey. Especially with Jamaal Jackson recovering from the knee surgery.

Washington Redskins

I guess the dream scenario would be thwarting Andy Reid's evil plan and landing Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. It wouldn't thrill Donovan McNabb, but it would give the Redskins more of a long-term answer than McNabb. But I don't see that scenario happening, so let's go with a left tackle at Plan B in Oklahoma State's Russell Okung or perhaps Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams. Is it just me or is the Big 12 going to dominate the top of the draft board?

The Skins need more draft picks. That's why they should pull the trigger on an Albert Haynesworth. It's clear that Shanahan doesn't want to move forward with the talented defensive tackle. See what a team's willing to give up for him. I think you'd at least get a second-round pick.