NFC East: Sam Paulescu
NFC East teams in need
Cowboys: They're set at punter with Mat McBriar, but while they're obviously invested in kicker David Buehler, they brought in veteran Kris Brown to see if they could put some pressure on Buehler to be better. The new kickoff rules could make Buehler's saving grace -- his ability to drill touchbacks on kickoffs -- less valuable than it used to be, which means making field goals is the only way he's going to keep his job. If he flops badly, it's possible Dallas looks at someone on this list since Brown likely isn't the answer either.
Giants: Set at kicker with Lawrence Tynes, and committed to Matt Dodge at punter but you wonder for how long. Following Jeff Feagles was never going to be an easy assignment, but as big as Dodge's leg is, his directional gaffes last year were too much for the Giants and their fans to stomach. Not kicking the ball out of bounds against DeSean Jackson and the Eagles in that Meadowlands game wasn't the first mistake -- just the worst and least forgettable. Dodge is likely to start the season with the job, but the Giants might want to keep their eye on this list in case they need to make a midseason move.
Eagles: Situation very much in flux in Philly, where they drafted kicker Alex Henery, likely signaling the end of the Eagles career of the great David Akers. Punter Sav Rocca, is also a free agent and could decide to retire rather than punt again at the age of 38. Bet on the Eagles going with Henery at kicker and bringing back Rocca on a one-year deal, but if Rocca won't have it, they'll need to go shopping.
Redskins: Well, they have guys at both spots. But Graham Gano is coming off a bad year as the kicker, and they could theoretically look to replace him. They have two punters on the roster -- Josh Bidwell and Sam Paulescu -- so they should be able to come up with something out of that.
Top five potential free-agent kickers
1. Adam Vinatieri, Colts
2. Ryan Longwell, Vikings
4. Matt Bryant, Falcons
5. Shayne Graham, Patriots
Top five potential free-agent punters
1. Adam Podlesh, Jaguars
2. Ben Graham, Cardinals
3. Steve Weatherford, Jets
5. Michael Koenen, Falcons
Predictions that mean nothing: At least three of these teams will change kickers and/or punters between now and the end of the 2011 season, but I'm not saying which because kickers and punters are totally unpredictable. Akers leaves the division, though, I predict, though Dallas fans might wish their team would snag him.
Redskins safety Chris Horton injured his knee Thursday and had to leave practice, but coach Jim Zorn said he probably wouldn't have an MRI test. The other injury news is that punter Hunter Smith aggravated his groin injury and will be inactive for Sunday's game against the Falcons. The Skins are expected to sign Sam Paulescu to fill in for Smith, so they'll have to make another roster move.
"I don't want to put down Hunter because he's healing," Zorn told reporters Thursday. "I don't want to put him down right now."
Of Horton's injury, Zorn said: "I don't know the extent of it, but he couldn't finish practice. I hope he'll be fine. I hope he'll practice tomorrow."
The Redskins will face a Falcons team that has lost two straight games for the first time in the Mike Smith era.
IRVING, Texas -- We've just kicked off at Texas Stadium, where it's a gorgeous 70 degrees. Cowboys will have the ball first. From everything I've heard at Valley Ranch this week, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has added a lot of max-protection packages in an effort to give quarterback Brad Johnson more time in the pocket.
On the first possession, Johnson threw a weak pass over the middle to Marion Barber that was broken up. The next two plays weren't any better. The only highlight for the Cowboys was a perfect-form tackle by punter Sam Paulescu. Former Cowboys wide receiver Antonio Bryant is putting on a show for the Bucs.
Tampa Bay finishes the drive with a 36-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead. One thing you should keep your eyes on is the chess match between Johnson and longtime Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. They know each other really well. Kiffin does a tremendous job of disguising blitz packages, and he won't take it easy on the immobile Johnson.