NFC East: Shaun Rogers

Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants.

The news of the day: The Giants made some roster moves Thursday, including the decision to put running back David Wilson on season-ending injured reserve to make room for running back Andre Brown, who was activated from short-term IR. The Wilson decision has been coming for a while, though obviously he and the team hoped it wouldn't come to this. Multiple people I spoke with about the situation Thursday said they were optimistic that Wilson wouldn't need surgery on his neck and would recover fully in time for the 2014 season. But with Wilson needing a few more weeks before his next evaluation and the Giants only having eight games left anyway, this move made sense. The Giants also put defensive tackle Shaun Rogers on IR and activated defensive tackle Markus Kuhn from the physically unable to perform list. While the Rogers move was to make room for Kuhn, my guess is that the biggest beneficiary will be rookie defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who has impressed in limited action so far but has struggled to get on the field due to the numbers game at defensive tackle.

Behind enemy lines: Rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden showed up on the Raiders' injury report Thursday with a groin injury. Hayden was one of the biggest victims of the Eagles' and Nick Foles' seven-touchdown-pass onslaught Sunday, but losing him would hurt the Raiders' depth in the secondary and perhaps make them even more vulnerable to a potentially big game by Eli Manning and the Giants' passing attack.

Around the division: Really bad loss for the Redskins on Thursday night, as their offense stalled out in the second half and they lost on the road to a terrible Minnesota Vikings team. NFC East teams are now 8-15 this season in games played against teams in other divisions, and the Giants actually have a chance to catch the Redskins for third place with a win Sunday against the Raiders. And yes, the Redskins were 3-6 through nine games last year, too, and ended up winning the division, but it's important to remember that they had to win all seven of their remaining games to do it.

Around the league: There are no Giants on John Clayton's midseason All-Pro team, which is not really a surprise. Of the 26 players on the team, nine have played against the Giants this year, but that's largely because four of them are Chiefs. Anyway, thought you'd enjoy a look at the team in case you hadn't seen it already. And it beats the heck out of another Jonathan Martin note. Catch me on "NFL Insiders" at 3 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN.

Upon Further Review: Giants Week 7

October, 22, 2013
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An examination of four hot issues from the New York Giants' 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings:

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Bill KostrounPeyton Hillis had 18 carries and a touchdown in his Giants debut.
The impact of Jon Beason: What's amazing is that Beason was only available in trade because he'd lost his starting outside linebacker job in Carolina to Giants castoff Chase Blackburn. After two games in New York you can make a legitimate case that Beason is the best defensive player on the team. Justin Tuck called him a "godsend" and spoke of Beason's impressive football knowledge and ability to direct traffic and get guys positioned on defense before the snap. Beason also plays fast and finds his way to the ball quickly. He looks like a very good middle linebacker, and it may be that he needed to be in the middle instead of on the outside where Carolina was using him. The extent of the upgrade he represents over what the Giants had been using at linebacker prior to his arrival speaks ill of the decision not to prioritize the position in the offseason.

What a little pressure can do: The Giants got only one sack, raising their league-worst team total to six for the season, but they did pressure Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman and it did matter. Antrel Rolle's interception came on a play on which Shaun Rogers was draped around Freeman's ankles. Tuck's sack came on third down. Both plays deprived the Vikings of at least field goal chances. The Giants' pass rush has been absent all year and must resurrect itself if they are going to win more games. It was encouraging that Jason Pierre-Paul (who now has one sack in his past 14 games) looked quicker off the ball in the first half, but he has to carry it through the game.

The Peyton Hillis thing: The newly signed Hillis made his best contribution as a receiver out of the backfield, catching five passes for 45 yards. He ran for a touchdown, but he had only 36 yards on 18 carries and the Giants averaged only 2 yards per rush attempt as a team. They didn't have to do much on offense to beat a Vikings team that looked as though it wasn't trying to score. And Hillis is a neat story if he really is making a comeback of any sort here. But to think the run game woes are suddenly solved would be a mistake.

Whither Hakeem Nicks? He was once again the Giants' most-targeted receiver, as Eli Manning threw his way 10 times. But Nicks caught only two passes for 28 yards. He can't seem to get separation from defenders, at all, anymore, which means he has to outfight them. And while he's capable of that, it's no way to go through a game and help your quarterback. Increasingly, Nicks looks like a guy who's not worth the No. 1 wide receiver money he seeks. And if he's still seeking it in March, he's not likely to be a Giant next year.

Giants' defense wants out of its rut

September, 8, 2013
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Shaun Rogers and Cullen JenkinsUSA TODAY SportsThe additions of Shaun Rogers and Cullen Jenkins should help bolster New York's run defense.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The question was about the New York Giants' sparkling 4-0 record at Cowboys Stadium, which is now called AT&T Stadium and is where the Giants will open their regular season Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys. It was a leading question, about a point of Giants pride, and its author was asking it of almost everyone in the room. But the answer from Justin Tuck, captain of the Giants' defense, may have transcended the topic.

"I've never left from Jerry's World feeling good about our performance on defense," Tuck said. "Obviously, you feel good about the win, but we don't like to put the pressure on Eli [Manning] and the offense to have to score 30 points to win a game. I hope they only have to score 10. We have to play a great game."

Such this the state of the Giants' defense at the dawn of the 2013 season. They intend to be great. They believe they can be great. But when you get right down to it ... they haven't really been great for some time. Oh, there are spurts, sure. They were unquestionably great for a six-week stretch from late December 2011 to early February 2012, and that stretch helped deliver the franchise's fourth Super Bowl title. They were great last year in San Francisco, when they dominated the eventual NFC champs in a game that seemed to stamp them as a serious threat to defend their title.

But in the big picture ... not great. The Giants ranked 27th in the 32-team National Football League in total defense in the 2011 regular season. They dropped to 31st last year, when they finished with an identical 9-7 record that this time wasn't good enough to get them into the playoffs. Blame to go around, for sure, but one can't help but think fielding a top-30 defense might have meant the one more win they needed, right?

"It is quite motivating," Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said of that No. 31 ranking from a year ago. "It never goes out of my mind. You never want to be ranked last, or near last, in anything you compete at as a professional. So we are very motivated to erase that number and be a top defense in the league."

It's a long way back to anything resembling the top for these Giants, who as part of the plan to jump as many of those 30 spots as possible are counting on players like Tuck and cornerback Corey Webster to simply play better than they did in 2012. Both players say they're sure they can do it, but August talk is the cheapest talk and we'll start actually finding out tonight. Other parts of the improvement plan, Fewell said, include (a) supplementing the front four's pass rush with increased help from blitzing linebackers and (b) using players with larger backsides.

"We've got bigger butts," Fewell said. "Shaun Rogers is in there. Cullen Jenkins is in there. The butts are a lot bigger, so it looks different."

He laughed, as we all did, but he wasn't really kidding. Adding size at defensive tackle, as they did by bringing in Rogers, Jenkins, Mike Patterson and second-round pick Johnathan Hankins, was part of the Giants' offseason plan to beef up the middle of their defensive line and be tougher against the run.

"It's a huge factor is helping us be a better run defense," Fewell said. "The mass, the size, the strength is noticeably different for us."

All right. We can give him that. Defensive tackle appears to be the one spot at which the Giants clearly upgraded on defense this offseason. But questions remain in the secondary, where Webster is a mystery and Prince Amukamara is still emerging and safety is all kinds of banged up with Kenny Phillips gone and Stevie Brown out for the season with a torn ACL. They have their usual patchwork at linebacker, a position at which the plan appears to be for Fewell to rotate players in and out of the lineup depending on how their individual strengths and weaknesses mesh with the situation. And in the end, it all likely comes down to whether their pass-rushing defensive ends can be dominant, and whether they can be that way every week.

"We know what it's about for us," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "The reason it's frustrating is because one week we can look like the best defense in the league and then the next week, we go out and we don't. If you want to be one of the best defenses in the league, you have to do it week in and week out. And that's what we haven't done."

That's the mission for the Giants' defense as 2013 dawns -- to play back up to its old reputation and keep it there. If it doesn't, then things could start to look a lot different on that side of the ball starting next year. Tuck could be gone. Fewell could be gone. Webster and Antrel Rolle and who knows who else could be gone. The Giants may consider themselves underachievers, but one more year near the bottom of the league would make it hard for anyone else to believe they're not just a bad defensive team.

W2W4: Giants at Cowboys

September, 6, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The New York Giants have waited nine months to erase the sour taste of last season’s failed title defense.

On Sunday night, they finally get back on the field looking to find consistency and a chance to do something they didn’t do last season –- start off on the right foot against the Dallas Cowboys.

Here are five things to watch for:

JPP’s back: Will Jason Pierre-Paul play and, more important, will his surgically repaired back hold up? The defensive end says he is a game-time decision, but Giants coach Tom Coughlin says a decision will be made well in advance about the team’s best defensive player. Considering that JPP practiced all week on a limited basis, but did everything he was asked and is making the trip, the Giants should have Pierre-Paul on the field barring an unforeseen setback.

But if he plays, how effective will he be and how many snaps will he play? Will he start, or rotate in behind Mathias Kiwanuka? Having him on the field, even if on a situational basis, could make a big difference. Remember, JPP once practically beat Dallas by himself with two sacks, a safety, a forced fumble and the block of a potential overtime-forcing field goal in a 2011 victory.

[+] EnlargeJason Pierre-Paul
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IITom Coughlin has likely already decided the status of Jason Pierre-Paul, who's played well in Dallas.
Big Blue got back: After finishing 31st overall in total defense last season, the Giants added a lot of beef on the front line. Or, as defensive coordinator Perry Fewell likes to say, “We’ve got bigger butts. … The butts are a lot bigger.”

Sir Mix-A-Lot would be proud. The Giants are hoping Cullen Jenkins', Linval Joseph's, Shaun Rogers', Johnathan Hankins' and Mike Patterson's big rear ends will help the defense be much stingier against the run than last season, and help spark the pass rush as well. Justin Tuck came into the season in terrific shape and is determined to perform in a contract year. Kiwanuka is back at his natural position and Jenkins will be used as an extra pass-rusher as well. The Giants’ front line has to have an impact on this game. Otherwise, the secondary could have another long night against Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

Cruz and Nicks: Victor Cruz says his bruised heel is ready to go. Hakeem Nicks says he feels as good as he has in a long time. Quarterback Eli Manning will need his two star receivers to get back to doing their normal damage against the Cowboys. Last season, Nicks had only eight receptions for 84 yards in two games against Dallas while dealing with foot and knee injuries. And Cruz totaled just eight catches for 81 yards in two games against Dallas.

The Giants need more from those two and Rueben Randle against the Cowboys' secondary on Sunday night if they’re going to remain a perfect 5-0 at Jerry World. We’ll see how in tune Manning is with Cruz and Nicks after having their offseason and training-camp practice time repeatedly interrupted by injury and a contract negotiation.

Wilson’s revenge: A year ago, David Wilson fumbled the second carry of his pro career against the Cowboys -- and it cost him dearly, as he was locked in Coughlin’s doghouse for the next 11 games. On Sunday night, he’ll open his second NFL season with the role of starter and Giants feature back. With Andre Brown out for the first eight weeks, Wilson is the man. He has to stay healthy. He must protect Manning in pass situations. If he can do both, he’ll get his share of touches and opportunities to deliver big plays, starting against the Cowboys.

Front line: Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride isn’t sure if he will have to alter his game plan according to his offensive line. If all goes well, he won't. The Giants will have two inexperienced starters on the line in first-round pick Justin Pugh at right tackle and James Brewer at left guard. Left tackle Will Beatty, center Kevin Boothe and right guard Chris Snee will surround the two with plenty of experience. The Giants hope the revamped line will get the ground game going and keep Manning clean.

New York Giants cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
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Most significant move: It was 2011 second-round draft pick Marvin Austin who was the odd man out of the numbers game at defensive tackle when the New York Giants announced their final roster cuts Saturday night. Austin was beaten out for a roster spot by former Eagle Mike Patterson, whose final two years in Philadelphia were negatively impacted by a brain condition for which he underwent surgery. Patterson and veteran Shaun Rogers were impressive in camp and will join a deep defensive tackle rotation along with starters Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins as well as 2013 second-rounder Johnathan Hankins. The reason the move is possibly significant is that this was the position from which the Giants were most likely to cut someone who could be of use to another team. If I'm the Dallas Cowboys, who are banged-up and shorthanded on the defensive line and play the Giants eight days from right now I'm looking into Austin if only for some intel on the enemy. Austin showed potential, but early-career injury issues held back his development, and he didn't perform well enough this offseason to earn a place on the team.

Shorthanded September?: Obviously, there are always more moves to come in the next few days as the Giants sort through the waiver process and see which players who just became available today could be of use to them. One spot where the Giants likely will look to beef up is at running back. They terminated the contract of Ryan Torain, leaving them with four running backs on the roster -- starter David Wilson, backups Michael Cox and Da'Rel Scott and "co-starter" Andre Brown, who's likely out four to six weeks with a fracture in his left leg. Keeping Brown indicates that the Giants do indeed expect him back at some point during the season, but it also leaves them with only three healthy backs to start the season. It's possible they could put Brown on injured reserve with a designation to return this season, but they can't do that until Tuesday. If they did, they could add a running back (or a player at some other position). Brown is one of at least seven players (along with Victor Cruz, Henry Hynoski, David Baas, David Diehl, Jason Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore) whose status for the early part of the season is in doubt or worse due to injury, so there may not be a lot of wiggle room in picking inactives for the opener.

What's next: Based on performance, the release of Tyler Sash isn't overly surprising, but it does leave the Giants thin at the safety position and leads you to believe they'll try to acquire another safety at some point this week. The first name that will jump to mind is that of former Giant Kenny Phillips, who obviously knows the defense and was released by the Eagles last week. But don't assume they'll view Phillips as their best option. The main reason they let him go this offseason was their concern that he'd never be able to get his knee fully healthy, and the reason the Eagles (who aren't exactly strong at safety themselves) let him go was because he couldn't get healthy enough to practice. The Giants like what rookie Cooper Taylor has shown lately, and they like Will Hill as an option at safety, so they may decide they only need to weather the four games for which Hill is suspended to start the season. While Phillips is a possibility, there will be other choices, and likely a few the Giants like better.

Giants moves:

Waived: DE Matt Broha, OT Stephen Goodin, S David Caldwell, OL Matt McCants, CB Charles James, CB Terrence Frederick, WR Julian Talley, LB Kyle Bosworth, DE Adrian Tracy, DE Adewale Ojomo, DT Marvin Austin, OL Eric Herman, OL Bryant Browning, WR Kevin Hardy, WR Marcus Harris

Contracts terminated: QB David Carr, RB Ryan Torain

Waived/injured: S Tyler Sash, OL Selvish Capers

Reserve/physically unable to perform list: DT Markus Kuhn (knee)

Injured reserve: WR Ramses Barden (knee)

Suspended: S Will Hill

Giants Stock Watch

August, 28, 2013
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A look at whose stock is rising and falling with the New York Giants on the eve of their final preseason game.

FALLING

The secondary. No one was expecting another eight-interception year from Stevie Brown, but he was slated to be a starting safety and had worked hard all offseason to learn and master more of the defense than he knew when he was thrust surprisingly into a starter's role in 2012. Brown tore his ACL in Saturday night's preseason game against the Jets, leaving an already-questionable part of the Giants' roster thin. Newcomer Ryan Mundy takes over as the starter for now opposite Antrel Rolle, who's still working his way back from an ankle sprain. But the guy the Giants really like for that spot is Will Hill, who is suspended for the first four games of the season.

Manning
Eli Manning's comfort. Injuries along the offensive line have prompted three rearrangements of the starting group in the past nine days. After Jim Cordle struggled at center Saturday, the Giants moved Kevin Boothe to center and elevated James Brewer to the starting left guard spot. While Brewer has worked at guard in practice a bit this offseason, he's a natural tackle with little experience on the inside. But Boothe is the team's best option at center after the injured David Baas, and that position is more essential as Manning works to get comfortable behind all the shuffling. Manning is fine with shuttling different receivers and tight ends in and out of the lineup, but he's a little bit less fine with not being able to count on his protection to stay reliable. If Baas were able to return by Week 1, that would be a big help. One positive development: Rookie right tackle Justin Pugh seemed to hold up fine in his first game action as a starter.

RISING

Tuck
The defensive line. You saw Justin Tuck's interception of Geno Smith on a play where he hid and then dropped into coverage. Tuck looks fantastic. But what's stood out to me in these preseason games so far (and in the practices I've attended) is the play of the Giants' defensive tackles. Shaun Rogers and Mike Patterson, in particular, looked great Saturday night helping to collapse the pocket with interior pressure. A couple of guys like that in rotation with Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins could give the Giants something they didn't have last year as far as disruptive toughness in the interior of the defensive line.

Andre Brown. You're getting sick of me writing about this, but it's a real issue. David Wilson's 84-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage was the play of the game. But in a game in which Manning and the first-team offense took 34 snaps, Brown was on the field for 26 and Wilson was on the field for just 14. Brown has consistently been the third-down back and the goal-line back this preseason, but he was also the first-down back and the second-down back in the second quarter Saturday. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the team found itself in more passing downs in the second quarter. And while he said "not necessarily" when I asked him if he trusts Brown more than he trusts Wilson in pass protection, the proof is in the pudding. When the Giants are in passing downs, Brown is the halfback and Wilson is on the bench. This is a major conundrum for the Giants, because they need Wilson for his breathtaking big-play ability but don't yet trust him to help protect Manning, which is their top priority. Meantime, more snaps for Brown, who's been great in practice even though he was so-so in Saturday's game.

Best Giants camp battles

July, 31, 2013
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Tom Coughlin says he has never had a training camp competition as wide open as the one he currently has at linebacker.

Linebacker is just one of the positions where there will be competition. Here's a look at the best camp battles for the New York Giants:

1. Linebackers.

The competitors: MLB Mark Herzlich, OLB Keith Rivers, OLB Spencer Paysinger, OLB Jacquian Williams, MLB Dan Connor, OLB Aaron Curry, LB Kyle Bosworth, MLB Jake Muasau, LB Etienne Sabino.

The 411: Herzlich, Rivers and Paysinger are the starters so far in camp. Williams, Connor and Curry make up the second team. Herzlich and Connor are competing to replace Chase Blackburn, and it appears like it's Herzlich's job to lose thus far. Paysinger definitely has a chance to hold on to a starting spot. If Rivers can stay healthy, he can do some of the things Michael Boley did. When healthy, Williams can be a three-down linebacker, and his speed and athleticism allows him to cover tight ends. Curry is a wild card.

What they're saying: "They told us nothing is set in stone, everybody has to work," Paysinger said of the coaches' message. "They say that when it comes to the depth chart, it can change any day, that we dictate how the depth chart goes. If one person has a great day, he might be going with the ones, if a person slips up a little bit, he might be going with the twos and threes."

2. Right tackle.

The competitors: David Diehl, Justin Pugh, James Brewer.

The 411: Diehl is the front-runner because of his experience and is the starter right now. Pugh was drafted for a reason with the team's first-round pick. Jerry Reese said there was initial concern about Pugh's arm length for the tackle position. However, the Giants will see what Pugh can do at right tackle with the second team. Brewer has been getting first-team reps at right guard while Chris Snee makes his way back from offseason hip surgery, but Coughlin says Brewer is in the mix.

What they're saying: "David Diehl is a highly motivated guy in the first place, and competition always brings out the best," Coughlin said.

3. Backup defensive tackle.

The competitors: Shaun Rogers, Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson, Marvin Austin, Markus Kuhn, Frank Okam.

The 411: The Giants loaded up at defensive tackle in an effort to stop the run this season. Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins will start at defensive tackle. There will be stiff competition for the spots behind the starters. When motivated and healthy, Rogers is a load. He and Hankins, the team's second-round pick, have been working with the second team. Patterson and Austin have received third-team snaps. Austin, the team's second-round pick in 2011, is going to have to fight for a roster spot. Kuhn, who impressed the coaches last season, is on the PUP list.

What they're saying: "He's been healthy for the first time," defensive line coach Robert Nunn said about Austin. "He's where he needs to be right now. He just can't disappear when the pads come on."

4. Fourth defensive end.

The competitors: Adrian Tracy, Damontre Moore, Justin Trattou, Matt Broha, Adewale Ojomo.

The 411: With Osi Umenyiora gone, the Giants need a fourth pass-rusher to emerge to play behind -- and sometimes alongside -- Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka. Tracy is the leading candidate for the fourth end spot, but Moore, the team's third-round pick, has impressed early. Until JPP is healthy, both Tracy and Moore could see snaps as the third and fourth ends.

What they're saying: "We've got some young guys that have to show up," Nunn said. "They look good when they're running around with no pads on, but you still see some things that get you excited."

5. Running back.

The competitors: David Wilson and Andre Brown.

The 411: Wilson and Brown technically are competing for the starting spot. But Wilson is the starter in camp and should be the starter for the season. Still, the two running backs likely could share carries, with the hot hand getting the majority of the carries in any given game. Brown is expected to resume his role as goal-line back as well.

What they're saying: "David is a different style of back than we've ever really had here at the Giants over the years," quarterback Eli Manning said. "A lot of speed and explosiveness. Both of them [Wilson and Brown] are different style runners, and we'll kind of understand that and put them in to do things that they are best at."
Up at New York Giants training camp on Saturday, coach Tom Coughlin was talking the old offseason talk about getting back to Giants-style football. They talk about this every year in Giants camp, and some years they make good on it and other years they don't. This specific talk Saturday was about the defense, and its need to play tougher. Per Ohm:
"Physical, New York Giant defense -- tough, physical and hard-nosed defense," Coughlin responded when asked what identity he wants to see his defense establish this season. "We're not that far removed from that and hopefully we'll get right back to it."
You know the Giants finished 31st in the 32-team NFL last year in total defense and were beaten too often by big plays in the passing game. But they weren't exactly stout against the run, either. They ranked 25th in the league with an average of 129.1 rushing yards allowed per game and 28th in the league with an average of 4.6 yards allowed per rush. In short, they need to do a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage.

To their credit, the Giants know this and made it something of an offseason priority. They like Linval Joseph at defensive tackle and were happy with the way he played there last year, but they needed to build up the group around him. So they brought in former Eagles defensive tackles Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, drafted massive Johnathan Hankins in the second round and brought back veteran Shaun Rogers, who made a strong impression on them in last year's training camp but had to miss the season due to a blood clot in his leg.

Is that enough? Jenkins played very well in Philadelphia two years ago but less so last year. But almost no one played well in Philadelphia last year, and Jenkins was asked to move around on the defensive line there more than he'll be asked to move around in New York. Hankins is a rookie, and the Giants don't tend to ask much of their rookies, so if he becomes a major factor in the rotation it'll be because he picked things up quickly and earned the playing time. Rogers and Patterson are wild-cards as they're both coming back from unusual medical troubles.

I think you can make the case that defensive tackle is the one area of the defense in which it looks as though the Giants are improved over last year. They only had one way to go, though, after allowing 4.6 yards per rush. If this year's group can't stop the run better than last year's group did, it's hard to see the pass rush or the secondary bouncing back either.
Let's see. Let's see. Anything? Bueller? Links?

Dallas Cowboys

Late last week, Calvin Watkins offered a look from inside the Cowboys' locker room at the reasons the team does not want to release troubled nose tackle Josh Brent. It's a worthwhile perspective. I believe, as I wrote last week, that the organization would be better off separating itself from Brent. But if they truly have sound personal reasons for wanting to stand by someone about whom they care, then it's kind of admirable that they're willing to take the public hit they're taking by keeping him on their roster.

Running back Joseph Randle didn't miss a single game due to injury in college, so it was unusual for him to have to sit out minicamp practices with a cast on his arm due to a broken thumb. The cast is off now, and Randle looks forward to emerging quickly in training camp later this month.

New York Giants

Do the Giants have enough depth at cornerback? Mike Eisen thinks so, and I think I agree with him. Certainly, there are quality veteran names in backup positions on the depth chart at cornerback. It's just that one of those names is Terrell Thomas, who's a complete question mark in every possible way at this point in his career. And one of the starters is Corey Webster, who was not good last year. So the questions at cornerback are more about quality than they are about quantity for the Giants.

Remember that story from a couple of months ago about how Giants defensive tackle Shaun Rogers had $400,000 worth of jewelry stolen from his hotel room? No? Well, anyway, they made an arrest.

Philadelphia Eagles

In this notebook, Len Pasquarelli wonders whether Eagles fourth-rounder Matt Barkley might turn out to be the best quarterback taken in the 2013 draft.

Hate to see dogfighting come up again, as it did when Eagles running back Bryce Brown had dogs seized recently in connection with a dogfighting case. But Brown has his dogs back and insists he's a victim, not a perpetrator.

Washington Redskins

Two separate studies of the 2012 season show the Redskins as one of the teams most affected by injuries. So it may be reasonable to expect this year's Redskins team to be better than last year's just because it can't have as much bad luck in the health department. I would agree, with one caveat: If quarterback Robert Griffin III isn't fully healthy all year, then it's hard to expect them to be better than they were in 2012. No matter the other injuries.

As great as Kai Forbath was on field goals in 2012, he struggled on kickoffs, and you know this matters to Mike Shanahan. Do the Redskins need to bring in another specialist just to handle kickoffs?
If you follow the New York Giants regularly, you can't honestly sit there and say you're surprised they didn't take a linebacker in this year's draft. Whether you agree with them or I agree with them or any other team agrees with them is immaterial. They just don't think it's that important of a position.

What the Giants do like -- and what they were after in this year's draft -- is size and toughness on the lines, both offensive and defensive. They used their first three picks on linemen a month after their owner spoke publicly about needing to toughen up on the lines. And while it's entirely possible that no one from this year's draft makes a significant impact in 2013, the Giants don't generally draft for immediate impact anyway. They use the draft as part of their perpetual commitment to a deep roster, especially at high-priority positions.

[+] EnlargeJustin Pugh
Jason O. Watson/USA TODAY SportsThe Giants are hoping that former Syracuse star Justin Pugh can provide some needed toughness up front.
So they used their first-round pick on Syracuse offensive lineman Justin Pugh. He's likely not going to come in and start right away at right tackle, as some may have hoped the Giants' first-round pick would. By pick 19, those guys were gone. Pugh played tackle in college but is more likely a guard (or maybe even a center) at the NFL level. With Kevin Boothe on a one-year deal and Chris Snee showing some signs of age, Pugh is likely more of a factor in 2014 and beyond. Yes, he could push for playing time at one or more spots this year. And yes, he could turn out to be a good NFL tackle. But the Giants took him because they like the player and person and believe he has the ability to fill more than one role. Since they don't know yet what their specific offensive line needs will be after 2013, he's a nice fit because he can help them go a number of different ways.

Second-round pick Johnathan Hankins, the massive defensive tackle out of Ohio State, could well be a part of the interior defensive line rotation this year. But again, he doesn't have to be. The Giants signed veterans Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson and Shaun Rogers and have returning starter Linval Joseph, among others, to fill those roles if the rookie isn't ready to play right away. But all of those new veterans come with question marks, and Joseph has one year left on his deal, so Hankins is yet another hedge against future needs at an important position. He's a run-stopping defensive tackle, and the Giants' run defense was near the bottom of the league last year.

It's easy to see what the Giants like about Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore, and why they were so pleased to find him still sitting there when their turn came in the third round. He was a sack machine in college, and with Osi Umenyiora gone and Justin Tuck coming off a disappointing year, they need to be thinking about the future of their pass rush. Moore dropped due to some off-field and character concerns, but he's 20 years old and the Giants believe strongly in their program and their coaching staff when it comes to developing and getting the best out of young players. He could produce right away in the pass rush if the attitude and work ethic concerns turn out to be overblown or immediately correctable, and if he does he could be one of the steals of the draft.

I didn't personally love the trade-up to get Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib in the fourth round. But quarterback is in the eye of the beholder, and as Mike Shanahan and the Redskins will tell you, the chance to get one you like in the fourth round is worth taking even if you feel set at the position. No quarterback in the league is as durable as Eli Manning, but should the unthinkable happen the Giants feel they have a quality young backup behind him in addition to David Carr. And even if Nassib never plays for the Giants, quarterbacks are valuable commodities in this league.

Fifth-rounder Cooper Taylor is a small-g giant as well as a capital-G Giant, a tweener-kind of player who's kind of a safety, kind of a linebacker and could develop into a useful piece in three-safety looks. Seventh-round guard Eric Herman is a seventh-round guard with a reputation for an on-field mean streak, and seventh-round running back Michael Cox is a worthwhile flyer for a team that just parted ways with a very successful seventh-round running back in Ahmad Bradshaw.

All in all ... well, it's generally hard to get overly excited about a Giants draft, because of the way the Giants draft doesn't lend itself to big dreams and excitement about how much better it made the team right away. Giants fans tend to trust GM Jerry Reese, and while they might have felt better this weekend if a linebacker or a top-flight cornerback had been one of the early-round picks, you have to respect the Giants for doing things their way. They contend every year, and once in a while they mix in a Super Bowl title. They must be doing something right.
On Thursday night, the New York Giants added a big piece to their aging offensive line with first-round pick Justin Pugh. On Friday night, in the second round of the NFL draft, they did the same for their defensive line, selecting Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins with the 17th pick of the round (49th overall).

Hankins is a run-stuffing defensive tackle who likely projects as a rotational player of the kind the Giants like to use on the interior of their defensive line. They are undergoing a transition of sorts in there, as Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard have left and been replaced by guys like Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson. Linval Joseph remains as a reliable performer at defensive tackle, and they brought back Shaun Rogers and still like Markus Kuhn, so Hankins joins a deep stable of interior defensive linemen in New York. As is the case with the first-rounder Pugh, this is a guy who could contribute right away if he shows enough in the offseason and training camp but doesn't have to. If he needs time to develop in their system, they have enough bodies at his position to allow him that.

Giants owner John Mara said earlier in this offseason that the team needed to get tougher and meaner on both lines, and with their first two picks of this year's draft, they appear to be paying attention to their owner's mandate.
Punter links, cornerback links, draft links ... we got em all. Links ahoy!

New York Giants

Ohm Youngmisuk's reaction to the Giants' re-signing of Kevin Boothe is multi-faceted. He believes James Brewer should get the shot at right tackle with David Diehl remaining on the team as a versatile offensive line backup. He thinks it becomes less necessary in the Giants' minds to draft an offensive lineman early (though he still thinks they should). And he thinks the two biggest contract issues the Giants face now are those of their two starting wide receivers. I think Youngmisuk's got it all just about right.

Giants defensive lineman Shaun Rogers had about $500,000 worth of jewelry stolen while he was staying at a very nice South Beach hotel. That stinks.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were not a good punting team in 2012, so they went out and upgraded at punter, bringing in two-time all-pro punter Donnie Jones and saying good-bye to Mat McBriar. Not a lot to say on this. If the guy punts well, it's a good move. If not, they'll go get another punter.

Victor Butler couldn't crack the lineup in Dallas as a 3-4 outside linebacker behind DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer and there doesn't appear to be room for him in the Cowboys' new 4-3 scheme. So the free agent is out looking for a new team, and his next stop is in Philadelphia. Can't have too many pass-rushers, they tell me.

Washington Redskins

Speaking of visits, free-agent cornerback Antoine Winfield, who had a fine year for the Vikings in 2012 but is turning 36 in June and got cut because it's a hard, cruel world out there in the NFL, is visiting the Redskins. Winfield would be a tremendous fit for the Redskins as a one-year stopgap at cornerback while they continue to try not to let their salary-cap penalty problem affect any future seasons. We shall see if they can fit him in the budget. My sense on E.J. Biggers, who signed last week, is that he's more of a No. 3 cornerback, which they also need.

Oh, and in case you're sitting there thinking to yourself, "I'd really like to see some pictures of Robert Griffin III with an elephant and other assorted circus performers," here.

Dallas Cowboys

Talent has never been the question with Dez Bryant. Maturity and understanding of the importance of his character off the field have. But as Calvin Watkins writes, those things may be coming into focus for Bryant at age 24. I mean, he's still only 24.

We have discussed the ways in which the Cowboys' switch to a 4-3 defensive front under Monte Kiffin should benefit middle linebacker Sean Lee and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, but here's a smart look at the way in which it should lead to big-play opportunities for weakside linebacker Bruce Carter.
PHOENIX -- The NFL announced the ever-popular compensatory draft picks Monday, awarding extra picks to 16 teams whose net losses in free agency last year were deemed by the league's formula to have outpaced their net gains. The Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants each added a seventh-round pick. The Eagles' extra pick will be the 239th of the draft. The Giants' will be the 253rd.

Neither the Dallas Cowboys nor the Washington Redskins, who were both very active in free agency last year, received any compensatory picks.

The formula for determining these picks is not strictly a 1-for-1 equation. For instance, the Giants got a pick even though the number of compensatory free agents they lost (Mario Manningham, Aaron Ross and Dave Tollefson) was equal to the number they signed (Martellus Bennett, Sean Locklear and Shaun Rogers). The reason is that, according to the formula, what the Giants lost in free agency was more than what they gained. The formula, the league's official release says, is "based on salary, playing time and postseason honors."

The Eagles got the extra pick because they lost Juqua Parker and Steve Smith and signed Demetress Bell. It's safe to assume they wish Bell had performed well enough to prevent them from getting an extra seventh-round pick this year.
Washington Redskins

CSN Washington is taking a look at unsung heroes from the Redskins' division championship season, and this latest installment looks at right guard Chris Chester. Indeed, Chester had a strong season at right guard and was one of the pleasant surprises on the offensive line.

Dan Steinberg dug into the Redskins' ticket-price increases and, not surprisingly, found some things that are making some fans a lot more unhappy than the team's initial announcement claimed they would be about this.

New York Giants

A day after cutting defensive tackle Chris Canty, the Giants announced that they re-signed defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. He impressed coaches and teammates in training camp last year but missed the season due to a blood clot in his leg. It's possible he could function as a Canty replacement at low cost, if he can stay healthy and play the way he looked in the preseason last year.

Ohm believes the Giants will make a push to re-sign tight end Martellus Bennett, which is not a big surprise nor a bad idea for them. The only potential issue is that, since he played well for them and looks more appealing now than he did at the end of his time in Dallas, they might not be able to get him as cheaply as they did a year ago.

Dallas Cowboys

Expect some changes for the Cowboys at running back this year, as Nick Eatman writes. And while he's right that they're not looking for a starter because they like DeMarco Murray for that role, it's not ridiculous to think they might look for someone who can share the starter's load with Murray and possibly help keep him healthier.

This is likely nothing, but if you're the Cowboys or one of their fans, you may want to see if Dirk Nowitzki is willing to hang a Tony Romo jersey in his locker next year.

Philadelphia Eagles

Sheil Kapadia has the full breakdown here of new Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis. Lots of interesting information, including something we'll get into later today about whether he's a 4-3 guy or a 3-4 guy or something in between.

It appears as though Alabama offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland will be joining the Eagles' coaching staff in the same role.

Oh, the irony: Giants are over the cap

September, 3, 2012
9/03/12
4:23
PM ET
ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that the New York Giants are one of three teams currently over the 2012 NFL salary cap by about $700,000 and must do some juggling in order to get under by the time the regular season starts Wednesday. This is the e-mail from Adam:
Houston, Detroit and N.Y. Giants are all roughly 700,000 over the NFL's salary cap, according to a league source. Houston can take their cap exception from the Redskins and Cowboys and get under the cap but the Giants and Lions will have to make a move or restructure contracts to get under cap. They have until Wednesday to get under the cap.

This is, obviously, quite ironic, since it was Giants owner John Mara who chairs the committee that imposed the salary cap punishments on the Redskins and the Cowboys for the way they spent their money in the uncapped 2010 season. Mara was the driving force behind those punishments and spoke out strenuously in defense of them at the owners' meetings in March, when he said the Redskins and Cowboys were "lucky they didn't lose draft picks" as punishment.

The Redskins were docked a total of $36 million in cap space over the next two seasons and the Cowboys $10 million, and that cap space was divvied up among 28 other teams ($1.6 million apiece) to use as they see fit. Since Houston's apparently remains unused, they're OK. But the Giants already took their $1.6 million, so they will need to restructure a contract or make a move.

I checked with Ohm Youngmisuk, who covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com, and he suggests Chris Canty, Michael Boley, Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle as restructure candidates (though Rolle restructured last year). Ohm also wondered whether the team could get under by working out an injury settlement with either Terrell Thomas or Shaun Rogers, who are on injured reserve and out for the season. So there are ways they can do it without impacting their roster too much. It's just a pain for them to have to do it, and you really do have to admit it's more than a little bit ironic that it's happening to Mara.

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