Good morning. Only one more round of preseason games stands between us and real, regular-season football. I, for one, am looking forward to being able to drop the qualifiers and talk about games that actually do mean something and allow us to draw meaningful conclusions.
In the meantime, we have the links.
Why did the Cowboys cut Andre Gurode? ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon offers a couple of reasons: "He was overrated, overpaid and overweight. Oh, and they’re confident in Phil Costa." Tim says they'll get much more bang for their buck with Costa, even if he's inexperienced, "short-armed" and currently recovering from a knee sprain.
If the Cowboys don't have a good kicker this year, don't say it's because they didn't consider all options. Even with four kickers already on the roster, they're discussing adding Dave Rayner, recently cut by the Lions, to the mix. It's kicker, folks, so it's all about hitting on someone. Most of these guys blow with the wind, and just because Rayner didn't make it in Detroit doesn't mean he can't be the answer in Dallas.
New York Giants
Gary Myers writes that Eli Manning's decision-making must improve over what he showed Monday night, and I agree. When I spoke with Manning about last year's 25 interceptions a few weeks back, he said, "You try to eliminate the bad-decision ones." The second one he threw Monday was a bad-decision one, and he admits that. I'm just going to wait until he starts making them again in the regular season before I start condemning him for it. Because, for the six millionth time, preseason means nothing as far as predicting anything that will happen in the regular season. At all.
Oh, and on a much sillier note, Manning and Plaxico Burress did meet up to talk before Monday night's Giants-Jets matchup. They bumped into each other at the movies. Plaxico was coming out of "The Smurfs," but Brian Costello didn't report which movie Manning and Shaun O'Hara were there to see. Regardless, there can no longer be any question about Manning and Burress' relationship. I didn't see "The Smurfs," but based on my wife's reaction to it after seeing it with the kids, I have to believe Burress was in a pretty lousy mood when Manning found him.
Phil Sheridan asks one of many good questions in the wake of Michael Vick's new six-year, $100 million deal -- namely, whether Vick will continue to work as hard and be the same straight arrow he's been for the past two years as he pursued that deal: "As long as that contract was out there, just out of his reach, Vick had literally 100 million reasons to be a solid citizen, coachable player, and consummate teammate. He had 100 million reasons not to be the man he was before he lost everything. Now the deal is done and he has 100 million temptations to go right back to his old ways." Phil doesn't worry that Vick will go back to dogfighting -- just whether he'll go back to being the "arrogant superstar" he was in Atlanta. It's a question worth raising, as it is with anyone with a questionable history who gets a big new contract. Only Vick can answer it. By now he surely knows such questions are here and not going away.
Geoff Mosher writes that the newly configured Eagles offensive line doesn't have much time to get in sync. With only 12 days until the regular-season opener, I see his point. But few seem to be talking about the fact that the line can continue to improve after the regular season begins, too. They'll still be practicing after Week 1, and there's no reason to believe the quality of the line play in the first game will be the same as it is come Week 4 or Week 9 or Week 15. I wouldn't be surprised to see the line play cost them a game or two early in the season, everybody to react as though the sky is falling and then Howard Mudd to continue to coach them up and improve as the year goes along. A lot of what the Eagles are trying to do this year rests on their faith in their coaching staff.
Wide receiver Terrence Austin has been one of the more impressive surprises of the Redskins' preseason, and Rick Maese has a look at the road he took to get to this point, where he's seriously challenging for a spot on the 53-man roster. The part about Austin and John Beck practicing together by themselves on Tuesdays last year when the rest of the team was off is especially interesting. Makes you wonder if Beck will look Austin's way more than you might expect -- assuming they're both playing, of course.
Ryan Torain is supposed to be back from his broken hand and playing in Thursday night's preseason finale. LaRon Landry won't, but he still says he'll play in the regular-season opener against the Giants. Landry seems pretty confident the fact that he hasn't played in a game since last November won't hold him back.
Nothing will hold me back today. I'm chatting at noon ET, and have plenty planned for your NFC East enjoyment today as we count it down together on the way to real football.