NFC East: Plaxico Burress

Giants Camp Report: Day 14

August, 12, 2014
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz is worth watching over the next couple of days. He missed practice Monday with a knee issue, and while he returned to practice Tuesday, he went down in a collision with a defensive back in one-on-one drills and was limping a bit when he got up. He returned to practice and caught a long pass in double coverage a few plays later, but he wasn't on the field very much for the two-minute drill that ended practice on a field that was starting to get slippery due to light rain. It goes without saying that the Giants' wide receiver corps, which is littered with unproven entities, could not stand to lose Cruz.
  • Some injured guys are working their way back, though. Rookie receiver Odell Beckham made good on his promise to keep progressing from his hamstring injury. He worked in individual drills Tuesday and was the intended target on one of quarterback Eli Manning's interceptions in 7-on-7 drills. Also catching passes was tight end Daniel Fells, who'd missed some time earlier in camp with a knee injury. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo named Fells and Larry Donnell when asked who among the tight end group has stood out so far. Donnell has been the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart all camp, but Fells has the best chance of anyone to overtake him from what I've seen.
  • Second-year safety Cooper Taylor continues to impress. He kept running back Rashad Jennings from getting around the corner on one run play I noticed in team drills.
  • Veteran defensive end Israel Idonije, who signed last week, could be getting a legitimate look for a roster spot. He's been getting some defensive end reps, and it helps his cause that Idonije is a player who can contribute at a high level on special teams, where he's been working a lot. Just something to keep an eye on.
  • Wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan (knee), return man Trindon Holliday (hamstring), fullback John Conner (concussion), running back Peyton Hillis (ankle), defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder), cornerback Jayron Hosley (foot) and tight end Xavier Grimble (hamstring) all sat out. Coach Tom Coughlin said Conner looks as though he could practice this week and that Hillis' progress is "slow."
  • Former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was a guest at practice Tuesday and watched from the sideline.
  • The Giants practice from 1:20 pm to 3:30 pm ET on Wednesday. Practice is open to the public.
David TyreeJohn David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports
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This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in New York Giants history. In the next two days, we'll feature Lawrence Taylor's sack that broke Joe Theismann's leg in 1985 and the Joe Pisarcik-Herman Edwards "Miracle at the Meadowlands" play from 1978. Please vote for your choice as the Giants' most memorable play.

Score: Giants 17, Patriots 14
Date: Feb. 3, 2008 Site: University of Phoenix Stadium


Which is the most memorable play in Giants' history?


Discuss (Total votes: 44,899)

What's forgotten about this play is that Giants quarterback Eli Manning was as close to being sacked as a quarterback can possibly be without actually being sacked. The Giants trailed the undefeated New England Patriots 14-10 with a little more than a minute left in Super Bowl XLII. It was third-and-5 on the Giants' 44-yard line, the eighth play of a drive on which the Giants already had converted a fourth down and would later need to convert another third. The play broke down and it appeared as though the Giants would have to pick up a long fourth down to keep their hopes of the upset alive. But Manning slipped out of the grasp of New England defensive end Jarvis Green, stepped forward in the pocket and fired the ball over the middle, where little-used Giants wide receiver David Tyree and Patriots defensive back Rodney Harrison were jumping for it at the same time.

Replays would show that Tyree caught the ball with both hands but that Harrison's hand got there too and knocked Tyree's left hand off the ball. As the two fell to the ground together, Tyree pinned the ball against the forehead of his helmet with his left hand, then managed somehow to get his left hand back on the ball and maintain possession all the way to the ground.

The result was a miraculous 32-yard gain and a first down that kept alive the Giants' chances. Three plays later, Manning found Steve Smith to convert a third-and-11, and on the play after that, he connected with Plaxico Burress for the 13-yard touchdown catch that gave the Giants the 17-14 lead.

The Giants kicked the ball back to New England, but with only 29 seconds left on the clock, Tom Brady couldn't get the ball out of his own end, and the Giants secured the third, and most astounding, Super Bowl title in their history. Tyree's catch was improbable enough to fit the moment. No one thought the Patriots, who carried an 18-0 record into the game and would have been only the second team in NFL history to finish a season undefeated, would lose. Most expected this to be a coronation of the best team in the history of the game. Manning, Tyree and the Giants did everything they possibly could to deny it.

Video: Storylines for Giants, Steelers

August, 10, 2013

Jeannine Edwards reports from Heinz Field and discusses the top headlines leading up to Saturday night's preseason matchup between the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Thoughtful piece here from Paul Schwartz, with the help of former New York Giants tackle Luke Petitgout, on the Giants' preference for parting ways with players before those players lose their effectiveness. At the end of the week in which the Giants cut two-time Super Bowl-winning running back Ahmad Bradshaw, as well as linebacker Michael Boley and defensive tackle Chris Canty, Petitgout remembers his own experience and sees it reflected in what's going on now:
“The Giants are a family,’’ Petitgout said. “It’s something tough to accept, like when a girlfriend dumps you. They know when your time is up. Some guys may buck the trend and have a good couple years after that but if you’ve been there a long time, they know your medical history, they know your aches and pains, they usually make the right decision. I basically had a time bomb in my back and when I went to Tampa it went off. The Giants knew what they were doing.’’
[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsThe Giants parted ways this week with Ahmad Bradshaw, who was their leading rusher the past three seasons.
It cannot have been easy for GM Jerry Reese to say goodbye to Bradshaw, who played through significant pain to help deliver the team's Super Bowl title last year. But between Bradshaw's salary and the chronic foot injuries that kept him from practicing during the week or playing at full strength on Sundays, the Giants believed it was the right thing to do. It's not the first time they've cut a player while he was still an effective producer for them, and if Bradshaw's best days are behind him, it won't be the first time the Giants cut a still-productive player just in time:
Reese is rarely wrong. As a former scout, his eye for talent isn’t confined to youngsters. Steve Smith and Kevin Boss haven’t done a thing and haven’t stayed healthy. He traded away Jeremy Shockey. He did not re-sign Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward or Amani Toomer. He cut Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie. He didn’t think Antonio Pierce's neck was sound enough to continue playing. He passed on bringing back Plaxico Burress. In the same purge that caught Petitgout, Reese also jettisoned Carlos Emmons and LaVar Arrington. Did any of these players prove Reese wrong?

Pretty amazing list. Combine this idea with what we wrote about here Thursday -- the Giants' organizational belief in developing young players in their system so they're ready to take over when it's time for the veterans to go -- and it's easy to see that Reese has a definite plan and is sticking to it. Will it work? No way to know. If the Giants are in something of a rebuild mode, they're going to need many of their young players to be as good as the team thought they'd be when it drafted them. And not even Reese, with all of his track record, can predict how players are going to play. The point is, even as things change with the Giants and people come and go, it's still easy to see the consistency with which they operate, and it has served them well.
Whatcha got?

Scott from Leesburg, Va. and Jason from Russell, Mass. each had questions about what's up with the New York Giants' running game. Scott wonders if they'd be better off giving Andre Brown more carries and Ahmad Bradshaw fewer, and Jason thinks the problems have to do with scheme and playcalling.

Dan Graziano: Well, Jason, you're right that the Giants' run game looked much better against Cleveland and San Francisco when they appeared to commit to it, and I think the issues the past two weeks were due to several factors. First, I think they were opponent-related. Against Washington, teams like to throw the ball because the defensive weaknesses are in the secondary. So it's understandable to see teams design game plans to try to take advantage of the Redskins through the air. And Dallas just played an excellent all-around defensive game, especially considering the field-position issues that resulted from the turnovers. But the other thing to consider is that Bradshaw hasn't been 100 percent healthy since that San Francisco game, and so it's fair to assume the run game hasn't found the same kind of rhythm it had when he was healthy and churning out 30 and 27 carries against the Browns and 49ers. That gets to Scott's point about a possible timeshare between Brown and Bradshaw, which might be in the offing. I don't think Brown is a threat to actually take Bradshaw's job, since Bradshaw has more in the bank with the Giants and is the better pass protector for their pass-first offense. But I think the fact that Bradshaw broke down again after the two highest single-game carry totals of his career will lead the Giants to split carries between the two (or possible even among them and rookie David Wilson) moving forward.

Ray from Fairport, N.Y. describes himself as "a huge Tony Romo fan," but suggests that the Dallas Cowboys trade Romo and a second-round or third-round pick to the Chiefs for what Ray presumes will be the first pick in next year's draft. Under Ray's plan, current backup Kyle Orton is the quarterback for a year while Matt Barkley or Geno Smith or whoever gets ready to take over as the next "franchise" quarterback.

DG: Geez, Ray. With "huge fans" like you, who needs enemies? The Cowboys are going to give Romo a contract extension that keeps him in Dallas for the remainder of his career. He's an excellent quarterback who's having a substandard, mistake-prone year, but his year isn't over yet and he's done much more good than harm as the Cowboys' quarterback, and they know they're not going to find anyone better at this point. As happy as the Chiefs or about two-thirds of the teams in the league would be to have Romo, the Cowboys aren't going to dump him for a draft pick who'd be lucky to ever be almost as good an NFL player as Romo already is. I also don't agree with those who find it so urgent to have a backup plan in place for when Romo leaves. How many teams actually pull that off? What current franchise quarterback was ever his current team's multiple-year understudy? Aaron Rodgers? Philip Rivers? Romo himself? That's about it. Pretty hard to do. When the time comes to replace Romo, the Cowboys will replace Romo. But now isn't the time. They have much bigger problems.

Stephen from Philadelphia agrees that benching Michael Vick in favor of rookie Nick Foles won't save the Philadelphia Eagles' season. But he is convinced Vick is not the future in Philadelphia, and wonders if it might make sense to put Foles in to see if he's the answer long-term.

DG: It would be, Stephen, if the Eagles believed this season to be lost. But before Andy Reid or anyone who's currently running the Eagles can think about the future, they need to make something of this season. If they don't, the owner is likely to clean house and replace them all at the end of the year. So as long as this season is salvageable, Foles stays on the bench and Vick in the lineup as their best chance to win six or seven of their final nine games. If they lose the next, say, four, and all is lost, then I think you have a case. But for now, while they retain a chance to make this year's playoffs, they're not thinking about the future.

Finally, Barry from Atlanta, Ga. wonders whether out-of-work wide receiver Plaxico Burress is "such a liability" that the Washington Redskins won't even give him a look in a week after which their receivers dropped so many balls.

DG: In a word, yes. I mean, I know everybody loves the recognizable names, but the fact is that 32 NFL teams are leaving Burress alone, and there are plenty that could use receiving help. He's 35 years old, comes with a ton of baggage and a history of being disruptive, wasn't a very good player for the Jets last season, and simply isn't worth a team's time or trouble. The Redskins like their receivers, and will like them even more once Pierre Garcon is back on the field. They're building something in Washington with a certain kind of player. They're not remotely interested in a half-season band-aid that might not even work.

That's it for this week's mailbag. Chat at you Sunday afternoon from MetLife Stadium.
Having won Sunday in Dallas by the tips of Dez Bryant's fingers, the New York Giants are 6-2 at the halfway point of their season. This is nothing new. It is the seventh time in Tom Coughlin's nine season as Giants coach that they have started 6-2 or better. He's been exactly 6-2 at the turn six times, was 7-1 in 2008 and was 5-3 in the first half in each of his other two seasons. First halves of seasons, under Coughlin, have gone very well for the Giants.

[+] EnlargeTom Coughlin
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireTom Coughlin's Giants have been susceptible to second-half struggles.
However, in his first eight seasons in New York, Coughlin's teams have posted winning records only twice. The Giants were 5-3 in their final eight games in 2005 and in 2008, and have not done better than 4-4 in the second half in any other season since Coughlin and Eli Manning arrived in 2004.

So, why should anyone expect this year to be different? With road trips scheduled to Cincinnati, Washington, Atlanta and Baltimore and home games against the Steelers, Saints, Packers and Eagles, there aren't too many soft-looking spots on the second-half schedule, right? Factor in Coughlin's .422 second-half winning percentage as Giants coach and the fact that you didn't come out of that Cowboys game feeling all that great about the way the team looked, and Giants fans would seem to have reason to worry, no?

Well, in my preseason preseason predictions, I forecast the Giants to go 12-4 and win the NFC East. And regardless of anything I wrote in that last paragraph, I don't see why they still can't hit that prediction.

First of all, that schedule's not as scary as it may have looked in the preseason. Only four of the eight teams on it currently have winning records, and two of those (Pittsburgh and Baltimore) are AFC teams in a year in which AFC teams are 12-20 in head-to-head games against NFC teams.

More importantly, though, it's important to keep in mind the place the Giants currently occupy in the NFL hierarchy and the opinion of other teams around the league. The Giants are not some plucky upstart trying to gain a foothold among the league's elites. They are one of the league's elites. They are a defending Super Bowl champion with the fourth-best record in their conference. They are a combined 5-0 in this calendar year against the Falcons, Packers, 49ers and Patriots. They may not look as good as they can possibly look each and every week, but they have proven they can beat any team in the league, at home or on the road, and that goes a long way.

The effect of the Giants' most recent Super Bowl title in the Giants' locker room has been a calming one. When they get into trouble, they believe they can (actually will) pull out of it. They have complete trust in Coughlin and Manning and all of the experienced leaders on their roster to guide them through inevitable challenges and tough times, and those leaders have confidence the team's less experienced players will listen to them. They are running the ball better than they did last year. They are deeper at the second level of the defense than they were last year. They have a kick return game. The offensive line is better. There is a pile of reasons to believe this year's Giants are better than the Giants who went 3-5 in the second half of last season before lighting it up in the playoffs.

The last time the Giants were defending Super Bowl champs, they were 7-1 at the halfway point and finished 12-4. That season ended ugly, with the Plaxico Burress arrest and a disappointing playoff loss to the Eagles, and the three years that followed were marked by disappointing second-half flops. But the way last year ended has restored the Giants' organizational swagger. And that's the main reason to believe this will be a good second half instead of a bad one.

Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 24, Giants 17

September, 5, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' season-opening 24-17 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Wednesday night at MetLife Stadium.

What it means: That the Cowboys intend to be a factor in the NFC East race this year. They needed this game much more than the Giants did, if for no other reason than to let the Giants and the rest of the world know they don't plan to be the same kind of big-game pushover they were last year. Given their history, it's safe to assume the Giants will recover fine from this, address their issues and remain in the race all year long. But of the three teams expected to compete for the NFC East title this year, the Cowboys are the one that came into the season with the most questions. They get 11 days off now before their next game to feel very good about their initial answer to those questions.

He's No. 3: I don't expect to get quite as many panicked questions from Cowboys fans this week about whether their team will or should sign a veteran wide receiver such as Plaxico Burress or Chad Johnson. The Cowboys believed they had enough depth at receiver, and Kevin Ogletree followed up a strong preseason with the game of his life. Ogletree caught eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including a 40-yarder on which he got behind the Giants' best cornerback, Corey Webster, and burned him for the score. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo seemed to seek out Ogletree pretty consistently on third down, and Ogletree responded by showing an ability to get open, catch the ball and move the chains. His biggest catch may have been a third-and-12 that converted a first down just before the two-minute warning and prevented the Giants from getting the ball back with time to tie the game. Remember, as you ponder whether or not to add Ogletree in your fantasy league this morning, that the guy who played that position last year put up some pretty big numbers.

Secondary issues: With Terrell Thomas out for the year with a knee injury and Prince Amukamara out for the game with a sprained ankle, the Giants were forced to start Michael Coe at cornerback opposite Webster and put rookie Jayron Hosley on the slot receiver. Webster played Dez Bryant most of the night (I still don't know why he was on Ogletree on the one play), and Coe played Ogletree or Miles Austin, whichever lined up outside. Coe played pretty well, but he hurt his hamstring in the third quarter, and the Giants were forced to go to fourth option Justin Tryon, who got beaten badly by Austin on the fourth-quarter touchdown catch that sealed Dallas' victory. By contrast, the Cowboys' revamped secondary with Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne at corner and Barry Church and Gerald Sensabaugh at safety, covered very well all night. They were even able to get a handful of sacks when they blitzed, which was something they couldn't do against Eli Manning and the Giants last year because they couldn't trust their coverage to stay sound long enough to get to the quarterback. Claiborne looks like he needs work, as you'd expect, especially in run support. But for this night at least, the Cowboys' plan to fix their defense from the back end forward appeared to succeed.

Wobbly champs: Part of the issue Manning and the Giants had on offense was the inability of their receivers to get separation. That speaks to the Cowboys' coverage, of course, but also to a relative lack of options in the passing game. Manning did find Domenik Hixon in coverage for a long gain one time, but it took a spectacular grab by Hixon (and a whiff in coverage by Carr) to complete that one. And none of the Giants' third wide receiver options looked anywhere near as reliable as Ogletree looked for Dallas. Manning targeted Victor Cruz the most by far, and Hakeem Nicks the second-most, and he looked the way of Hixon and tight end Martellus Bennett a fair bit, and Bennett made a nice catch for a late touchdown. But Manning was just a bit off with some of his throws, and overall the Giants' passing game appeared rusty. One has to believe that will turn out to be the least of their problems.

Leaky lines: Both offensive lines looked awful. The Cowboys' guards couldn't hold off the interior pass rush of the Giants, and the tackles couldn't stop committing false starts. Tyron Smith had an especially tough first game at left tackle. The Giants, who ranked last in the league in rush yards last year, couldn't open holes for running back Ahmad Bradshaw (or David Wilson, who got some early carries before fumbling and getting benched) and were unable to sustain drives as a result. The offensive lines still figure to be the biggest areas of concern for both of these teams going forward (assuming the Giants can get their secondary healthy), and it's doubtful either offense will be able to function at its best from week to week if they can't get some of the issues fixed.

Individual stars: DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee, DeMarco Murray and of course Romo all had standout performances for the Cowboys (though I have no idea why Murray turned inside on his long sideline run when it appeared he'd have a touchdown if he kept running straight). Austin and Bryant each made important catches at big times. For the Giants, defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard each had a sack, and Jason Pierre-Paul was nearly impossible to stop all night. Keith Rivers also was a factor early at linebacker before an injury forced him from the game. Both punters were excellent, and you know how much we love punters on the NFC East blog.

What's next: Dallas will play the Seahawks in Seattle on Sunday, Sept. 16, and they'll hope that this long break between games will be enough to get nose tackle Jay Ratliff and cornerback Mike Jenkins healthy and get their offensive lineman to stop false-starting on every other play. The Giants will be back home that same day to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They'll hope that Amukamara and/or Coe can get healthy by then and they'll have more in the secondary than they did Wednesday night.
The big question of the day was whether the Dallas Cowboys would or should sign free-agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress. This all sprouted from an report Thursday that said the team had had "preliminary discussions" with Burress' agent. Adam Schefter addressed this on SportsCenter, and while he did allow that he's surprised that Burress hasn't signed anywhere yet, he said, "it would be an even bigger surprise if he ended up in Dallas with the Cowboys. The Cowboys are trying to groom their young wide receivers, and if they wanted to sign Plaxico Burress, they probably would have done it by now."

So there you go. If you don't believe me, believe Adam. Burress isn't what the Cowboys are about right now. As you know from reading Camp Confidential earlier today (as I'm sure you all did), the Cowboys are trying to build their football program for the future. Burress isn't a good enough player at this point in his career that it's worth (a) the baggage he brings or (b) costing the young receivers reps and setting back their development another year. The Cowboys will be fine without Burress, and even if they do have an injury to Miles Austin or Dez Bryant, there's nothing in Burress' recent history to indicate he'd be a significantly better option that Kevin Ogletree or anyone else the Cowboys currently have. I'm sorry. I know he's a big name, but this isn't 2006.

If I were Burress and his agent, I would also be surprised and disappointed that Randy Moss and Terrell Owens have been able to get jobs and I haven't. And if Burress' agent is trying to drum up interest in his client, good for him. That's his job. But like Adam, I would be surprised if the Cowboys reciprocated his interest. And I think they're wise not to.
Friday links require no introduction. So why did I even type that?

Washington Redskins

Dan Daly writes that Robert Griffin III knows how to make an entrance. Griffin's preseason debut was obviously impressive, and hints at bigger things to come. He looked better and more certain of himself in the game than he did when I watched him last week in Redskins practice. Make of that what you will, Redskins fans. You have the right to get excited if you want to.

Griffin wasn't the only thing that looked good about the Redskins in their first game. The defense -- all the way down to the third-teamers -- was tough and stout all night. Usual disclaimers apply across the board. The Redskins looked good early in last year's preseason, too. This doesn't mean they're a sure thing to contend in 2012. But again, it's fun for fans to watch their team play well, even in make-believe games. And there's good reason to believe that defensive front will be a strength.

Philadelphia Eagles

After Michael Vick's thumb injury, which turned out to be not as serious as initially feared, the Eagles got a frightening look at what it would be like if they had to play without their starting quarterback this year. Given that Vick's only played 16 games in a season once in his career, it was worth paying attention.

Ashley Fox was in Philadelphia on Thursday night to chronicle the next step in Andy Reid's attempt to make his life normal again in the wake of the death of his son.

New York Giants

The Magazine's Jordan Brenner has a story that postulates that Antrel Rolle's locker room rant after the loss to the Redskins in December was what sparked the Giants to their postseason run. Possible. I will say this: The Giants responded to Rolle's criticisms the way you'd hope your team would respond -- by actually looking in the mirror and asking legitimate questions about themselves. And that did work.

Ohm Youngmisuk writes that all eyes will be on rookie running back David Wilson in tonight's preseason opener against Jacksonville. Watch him especially in pass protection. That's where the coaches will be watching him. If he progresses quickly in that area, that's his quickest path to more carries as Ahmad Bradshaw's backup.

Dallas Cowboys

Calvin Watkins had a report Thursday that the Cowboys had had "preliminary discussions" with the agent for wide receiver Plaxico Burress. Jerry Jones told Calvin that the Cowboys hadn't considered Burress at all. Calvin's a good reporter, and the people who run these teams don't always tell the truth, so don't assume the denial is legit. But I'd have to say I think it's unlikely that Burress would fit in with what the Cowboys are trying to put together out there.

Tyron Smith is only 21 years old, and last year he was already one of the best tackles in the league. Can he be an elite left tackle now that he's on that side? He's certainly making the right impression on his teammates.

On Eagles injury issues

July, 29, 2012
Saturday was a bad-news day out at Philadelphia Eagles camp, as wide receiver Riley Cooper broke his collarbone and defensive end Jason Babin suffered a calf strain. Zach Berman's Twitter page has the updates this morning from coach Andy Reid, who told reporters out at Lehigh that he figured Cooper is out six weeks and Babin likely one week pending the results of an MRI he hasn't had yet.

Not great, obviously, but there are silver linings to everything. Start with Babin. It's not as though he needs extra reps or to learn the defense. He had 18 sacks in it last year and 12.5 playing for defensive line coach Jim Washburn in Tennessee the year before. As long as the injury isn't serious enough to threaten regular-season games, Babin should be able to get up to speed without any trouble, and in the meantime guys like Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry can get the extra reps they need at the position.

Same deal at wide receiver, where Cooper's absence opens the door for players like Marvin McNutt and Damaris Johnson to get some of his reps. Cooper's status for Week 1 is in question, as he'll need to have surgery Monday to fix the collarbone, and McNutt is the one receiver on the roster who's nearly as big as Cooper. The Eagles don't have much size in their wide receiver corps, so they'd like to see if McNutt can offer something. If the rookies don't look good enough, there will still be time for the Eagles to look over the remaining free agents at wide receiver (guys like Plaxico Burress, Braylon Edwards, etc.), but Reid is saying they have no plans to do that now, and there's no rush.

Weekend mailbag: Good to be back

July, 21, 2012
It's been two weeks since I looked through the mailbag. That's two weeks during which I had the audacity to believe I was a decent human being who was okay at his job. Thanks for bringing me back to earth. Here are some of your printable submissions.

Daniel from San Antonio writes that "no one cares about the gap between Jerry Jones' perception and anything else" and "The fact is, it doesn't matter how much Jones loves Tony Romo" and "Romo is over-rated by Jones and under-rated by fans. The truth is not so much in-between the two, but rather found in this statement: Tony Romo is good enough to keep the Dallas Cowboys on the better side of mediocre." Daniel also writes a bunch of other stuff in a fairly long mailbag entry that basically indicates the usual about how he knows the Cowboys can't and won't ever win with Romo, because like so many of you, Daniel can see the future.

Dan Graziano: Daniel, the fact is that Jones' opinion of Romo matters considerably more than does that of any disgruntled fan, because Jones, and not the fans, will decide who plays quarterback for the Cowboys. There's nothing you can do about that, even if you think you're right and Jerry's wrong, because it's his team and, quite frankly, not yours. And while you can certainly poke holes in any number of decisions Jones has made during his time as Cowboys owner, in this case he's wise enough to know what he has, and how impossible it would be to upgrade. Romo isn't Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers or even Eli Manning, but he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league and a good sight better than anyone the Cowboys could conceivably get to replace him. Only five teams can have a top-five quarterback. It's not so bad to have to settle for a top-10 one.

Evan in Hawaii asks what chance I think New York Giants rookies David Wilson, Rueben Randle and Adrian Robinson have to have "the same level of rookie impact" that Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss had in 2007.

DG: Good question, Evan. I'll take them case-by-case. In 2007, Bradshaw ran for just 190 yards on 23 carries and caught two passes for 12 yards in the regular season. He was the No. 3 running back behind Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward and actually also finished behind Reuben Droughns in carries and yards. He had just six carries prior to Week 15, when he ran for 151 yards on 17 carries, and he of course was a big weapon for the Giants in the postseason. So I would guess that Wilson is more of a factor for the Giants this regular season than Bradshaw was in 2007. He's got a chance to be the No. 2 back behind Bradshaw, and the competition standing in his way is not as imposing as it was for Bradshaw in his rookie year. Steve Smith in 2007 caught eight passes for 63 yards, which doesn't sound like much but actually placed him third among Giants wide receivers in both of those categories. That team was a run-heavy offense that didn't run a lot of three-wide-receiver looks. The pass-catchers were Amani Toomer, Plaxico Burress and the tight ends (which we'll get to next). Smith did catch 14 passes in the postseason, but was more or less a non-factor. In 2012, the Giants are a pass-first offense who don't have much at the tight end position and run a lot of three-wide sets. If Randle plays well in training camp, he should be able to beat out the incumbents and become a No. 3 wide receiver who gets the looks Mario Manningham got this year -- a lot more than Smith got as a rookie. As for Robinson, he was drafted as a project tight end and they think he can help down the road. I can't see him being as much of a factor as Boss was when he replaced Jeremy Shockey late in 2007 and the Giants were throwing to the tight end a lot.

Ed from Washington, D.C. wants to know if the Washington Redskins plan to cut Chris Cooley and, if so, would the Giants be interested in picking him up?

DG: I think the only reasons Cooley would get cut is if he were not (a) healthy, (b) willing to accept a reduced role in the offense or (c) willing to take a pay cut. Given Cooley's well documented feelings about the Redskins, I can't imagine (b) or (c) being a problem, so that leaves (a). And if he's not healthy, I doubt the Giants would snatch him up.

And finally, I wanted to run this one from Tony from Woodbridge, Va. in its entirety. I promise you that I have copied and pasted this directly from my mailbag and not changed as much as one single letter or punctuation mark in Tony's entry. Enjoy:

Dan:You are turly stupid. Your comments about Michael Vick are just plain dumb. He is suppose to lead his team and I think that's just what he was doing when he made that comment. Do you even have a football background. It's funny how someone who has more than likely never played the game have so much to say. Play the game first and then you can make you little stupid comments.

DG: Thanks, Tony. That is turly one of the most insightful bits of feedback I have yet to receive. I will do my best to heed you advice and write my blog posts the way I am suppose to. I appreciate that someone like yourself have the time to offer such sage advice.

Until next week, folks. I turly can't wait.
If you're New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, Plaxico Burress is a guy who helped win you your first Super Bowl. But he's also a guy who shot himself in the leg with an unlicensed weapon at a crowded nightclub, effectively sabotaging the following season's attempt at a title defense and had to go to jail, where he was of little help to your offense the following year.

Oh, and he's also the guy who ripped you in an interview around the time he was released from prison, then visited your office and expressed contrition last summer while (as it turns out) blatantly using you and your team to help him get a higher offer from a team (in the same market) for which he really wanted to play and, about a month later, ripped you in another magazine interview.

So, while I can understand that the question may have needed to be asked in the wake of Hakeem Nicks' foot injury, I am not surprised that Coughlin answered it in the negative. Per Art Stapleton:
Regardless of how quickly Hakeem Nicks' fractured foot heals, Tom Coughlin insisted Tuesday morning the Giants have no plans of entertaining the idea of a return to Big Blue for Plaxico Burress.

Asked if the reigning Super Bowl champions would consider signing Burress, Coughlin shook his head and mouthed "No."

Coughlin's a polite guy, is all I can say to this. While I don't think the Giants coach is the grudge-holding sort, Burress has done everything in his power to burn this particular bridge and defecate on its ashes. I'm sure it's possible Burress will play for an NFL team in 2012, but I think every receiver on the Giants' roster could break a bone in his foot and that team still wouldn't be the Giants.
On Thursday, we offered "One big question" for each of our division's teams and took a stab at answering it. If you missed them, you can check them out here. But I get tons of questions, and not all of them are big. So as we head into the weekend, I thought I'd take a shot at answering a couple of smaller, more specific questions I seem to be getting asked a lot these days. Let's do one per team.

Dallas Cowboys: Will they go after Jacoby Jones?

It'd make a lot of sense, for the right price. He's a veteran receiver who can help as a return man. Basically what they need after Laurent Robinson and the 11 touchdowns he caught last season left for Jacksonville. But remember that last year, when No. 3 wide receiver was a question mark, the Cowboys didn't panic. They believed that Jason Witten's pass-catching ability at tight end lessened their need to prioritize that position, and they scooped up Robinson as a late-offseason bargain and got more than they ever expected. If there's competition for Jones, I wouldn't expect the Cowboys to push overly hard. There are still other options, including fifth-round pick Danny Coale and some of the other young guys on their roster.

New York Giants: Will they trade Osi Umenyiora?

This one surfaced with renewed energy Thursday after the news broke that Baltimore's Terrell Suggs was out for the season. The Ravens liked Umenyiora last year and now really could use him, and it's possible they'll call. But I don't see the Giants as motivated sellers. They have Umenyiora under contract for a reasonable price, and they have no fear that his contract situation will be a distraction to the team as it gets ready for the season, because everybody on the team is used to Umenyiora and his contract situation by now. The Giants would have to be blown away by an offer, and I don't expect that to happen. He'll either play for them in 2012 or sit out of his own accord.

Philadelphia Eagles: Do they need a red-zone receiver?

The name of Plaxico Burress has been floated, and he remains a free agent who'd fit the description of the kind of big end-zone target Eagles fans say the team needs. But as with the Cowboys above, I don't see the Eagles going too crazy to bring Burress in. If the price is right, and there's little risk involved from the team's end, sure. But with a running back in LeSean McCoy who rushed for 17 touchdowns last season, I don't think the Eagles feel the need to do anything dramatic to improve their performance in the red zone. When they get close to the goal line, they feel pretty good about their chances to run it in.

Washington Redskins: Who will start at running back?

My money's still on Tim Hightower, but there is that nettlesome little issue of his not currently being on the team. The Redskins have worked at re-signing him, and even if they do he's still going to be recovering from a torn ACL. Second-year backs Roy Helu and Evan Royster showed promise as rookies, but the Redskins' coaching staff isn't yet convinced of either as a full-time starter for 2012. Even if they bring back Hightower, I'd expect them to add another running back or two to the camp mix. And if Hightower goes somewhere else, I expect them to give themselves as many options as possible there, kind of like they're doing at safety.

Should Eagles sign Plaxico Burress?

March, 16, 2012
Adam Schefter was up early this morning taking some Twitter questions, and someone asked him whether the Bills might sign Plaxico Burress. Adam's response said, in part, "Philadelphia's the team to watch on Plax."

Now, Adam's not the type to just throw bits of speculation around. If he's saying that, he's heard something from someone about the possibility of Burress to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have two very good starting wide receivers in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, so they're not a team that jumps to the front of your mind when you consider possible Burress destinations. But as it did last year when they didn't pursue him, it makes some sense if they can bring him in for a very specific role.

As Mike Sando writes in his rundown of remaining free-agent wideouts on the NFC West blog, Burress was one of the most popular and effective red zone targets in the league last year with the Jets. He'll be 35 when the season starts, and it's unlikely he's going to be able to fill a role for anyone as a full-time starter. But on a team like the Eagles, which has two good ones, he could be worked into certain packages and used in the red zone. That's a role that might pay off for a team and could be good for Burress, who might wear down under a starter's workload.

The issue is that the wide receiver market is sky-high right now, and as long as teams are throwing big money around at players like Laurent Robinson and Pierre Garcon, Burress has no reason to sign. If a team that needs a starter gets desperate enough, he still might be able to get a starter's job (and, perhaps more importantly, starter's money) somewhere. But if not -- if the market plays itself out and Burress is still sitting around and willing to take a lesser role for a reasonable price, it's something the Eagles should consider. They were pretty effective at cashing in red zone opportunities with LeSean McCoy and the running game last year, but another proven option down there couldn't hurt.
Day 1 of free agency was all about the Redskins around these parts. Day 2 saw the Cowboys get busy and the Eagles make a surprising splash with one of their own players. What does Day 3 hold? All I know is it starts with links.

Dallas Cowboys

Todd Archer offers some examples of reasonable possibilities for Laurent Robinson's replacement, and he barely even scratches the surface. He's right that the Cowboys would have had no business trying to keep Robinson for the money he got in Jacksonville, and his partial list of options proves the key point -- that there will be many names available to the Cowboys as No. 3 receiver options at the level of the market at which they found Robinson a year ago.

The Cowboys signed one guard Wednesday and are bringing in a guy Thursday who's been a regular starter at the position for the past two years. Why two? Well, this post raises the intriguing possibility that Kyle Kosier could move to center, which is where the Cowboys had their biggest problems last season.

New York Giants

Martellus Bennett says he "only played like 30 percent of the snaps while I was in Dallas. I think, in a larger role, I can do so much more. I think the sky is the limit. I don’t think anyone has really seen who I am as a player and what I have to offer." His estimate isn't awful. A quick scan of the stats shows Bennett played about 42 percent of the Cowboys' offensive snaps over the past four years. His premise, however, is that he can be a great player if he plays more than that. We shall see. Injured tight end Jake Ballard played 75 percent of the Giants' snaps last year, so there's opportunity for Bennett to prove it.

The Giants still might look for another tight end, and old friend Jeremy Shockey wouldn't mind being considered, according to Gary Myers. Hey, don't laugh it off. They brought in Plaxico Burress and tried to sign him last year. Giants management is all about bygones if the value is right.

Philadelphia Eagles

Marcus Hayes writes of the Eagles' efforts over the past few days to lock up their young core long-term, and why it's a rare opportunity they have with a young core that appears ready to win now. His points are all well-reasoned, of course. But a lot of this is going to come down to a 32-year-old quarterback and whether Michael Vick is ready to win now.

Jeff McLane writes that the next big internal move could be a new contract for running back LeSean McCoy. Apparently, talks are under way and have been for a while now, and the sense in Philadelphia is that it could be done in short order. Somebody asked which team in the division is having the best free agency right now. And while I like what all four teams have done so far, you can make a strong case that the answer is the team that's signing its own stars to below-market deals while the market goes bonkers.

Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III says he's not yet willing to concede that he'll be a Redskin for sure. It appears as though he believes he can still convince the Colts to take him with the No. 1 overall pick. Which, good for him. If I were in that situation and had confidence in my ability, I wouldn't be conceding anything to Andrew Luck. It wasn't Luck who won the Heisman Trophy, remember. Anyway, the Redskins surely don't care. If the Colts took Griffin at No. 1 overall, they'd run to the podium to draft Luck with the second pick. That's why they paid so much to move up to No. 2 in the draft -- so they'd be guaranteed to get one of the two guys in the draft who looks like a franchise quarterback.

With their wide receiver pursuits nearly complete, the Redskins have turned their free-agent attention to defensive backs and offensive linemen. According to this story, that includes a pursuit of free-agent guard Ben Grubbs, who's drawing interest from many teams.