NFL Nation: H.B. Blades
Anyway, some stuff happened while I was on the road, and I'm going to start with the Redskins, who made a couple of moves.
They traded 35-year-old defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday and a conditional draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals for 25-year-old running back Tim Hightower. I put the players' ages in there for good reason, since it's the latest illustration of what the Redskins are up to -- namely, getting younger and rebuilding with their eyes more on the future than on 2011. They've been remaking their defensive line with the additions of Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen and the subtraction of Jeremy Jarmon and now Holliday. More moves might be coming there, and if they do, expect them to fit in with most of the moves the Redskins have been making -- moves for younger, hungry players who are already good and somewhat established but have room to grow as the team moves on into the future. Hightower enters the running back mix with Ryan Torain, Roy Helu and Evan Royster. He's got the most experience of that bunch, and Mike Shanahan likes having depth at the position. Sensible move that gets them younger overall and brings in something of a veteran presence at a position where they lacked it.
They re-signed right tackle Jammal Brown, who started slow last year in his first season with the team but improved in the second half as he became healthier, to a five-year, $27.5 million contract. This move was expected, though there was some thought they'd look elsewhere. (Denver's Ryan Harris had come up in some speculation.) Continuity is good for an offensive line, and Brown will return for a second year in Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. Left-to-right, the Redskins' starting offensive line right now is Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester and Brown. Everybody but Chester from that group was on the team last year.
They also brought back H.B. Blades, who'll be a special-teamer and a backup for them at the inside linebacker spots. Depth is good, and with Lorenzo Alexander possibly moving inside to make room for first-round draft pick Ryan Kerrigan on the outside, the Skins have it.
The Redskins have had a very busy -- and I think a very good -- first week of free agency. They're not making the kinds of moves that make you think they'll just right into 2011 contention, because they likely won't. But in the second year of a five-year contract, Shanahan is building a team, and trying to do it the right way. And don't look now, but it appears Dan Snyder has been staying out of it. Just like he promised.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
It's much easier for me to defend Jason Campbell when he plays like he did last night. The Redskins lost to the Patriots in the final seconds of a preseason game, but they appeared to gain much-needed confidence in the process. Campbell was 13-of-22 for 209 yards and a rushing touchdown, but the most important thing was that he looked poised the entire time. We saw what he can do when the offensive line gives him a little time.
|AP Photo/Nick Wass|
|Marko Mitchell caught a touchdown pass in front of cornerback Jamar Love during the second half of Friday night's game.|
After he called it a night, Campbell told Jim Nantz and Phil Simms that the offense couldn't "dink and dunk" its way down the field and be successful. And that's why you see coach Jim Zorn calling for so many downfield passes. I thought Post columnist Mike Wise summed it up pretty well after last night's game. OK, let's take a closer look at what took place:
Tom Brady and Randy Moss pretty much toyed with DeAngelo Hall. It wasn't an awful performance by the defense at all, but Hall was clearly in over his head against Moss. I realize he's going to make a lot of cornerbacks look bad, but you would hope Hall wouldn't get completely overwhelmed. When receivers such as Terrell Owens, Moss and Larry Fitzgerald showed up, it was always nice to have Shawn Springs on the field. Unfortunately, he now plays for the Pats. The best news for the Skins? They don't have to see Moss again -- unless it's in the Super Bowl. The good news for the defense is the three turnovers. In the second half, linebacker Rocky McIntosh made a superb play to tip the ball away from the tight end and allow LaRon Landry to go the other way. Also a really nice play on the ball by rookie corner Kevin Barnes. He's got some really good skills. This draft class is looking better all the time.
The Skins had 15 penalties for 113 yards? REALLY? Amid some of the positive aspects from this game, the penalties have to be driving Jim Zorn nuts. And you can't really pick on one unit. The defensive tackles may want to work on lining up in the right spots and you should start eliminating the false starts along the offensive line at this stage in the preseason. The 15-yard penalties will get you beat, and that's what happened when Hall grabbed Moss' facemask. The Skins' defense had a chance to get off the field at that point, but the penalty gave the Patriots another shot. You can't do that with one of the most potent offenses in the league.
There's no way in the world you can keep Marko Mitchell off the roster -- and why would you even try? He's big and he makes important catches. He froze a defender on a little hitch and go in the second half, and Colt Brennan found him for a 33-yard touchdown. Patriots cornerback Jamar Love never had a chance. The guy keeps getting in the end zone, and he's become perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the preseason for the Redskins. He offers what quarterbacks like to call a wide strike zone and he appears to be learning how to beat jams near the line of scrimmage. He could be a real threat near the goal line because of his body control and hands.
Colt Brennan didn't perform well enough to overtake Chase Daniel -- at least in my opinion: The same things that made Brennan one of the most prolific passers in the history of college football can also get him in big trouble. He's supremely confident and he thinks he can fit a ball into any space. But he has to be smarter when he's around the goal line. For the second time in as many games, Brennan made a horrible decision near the goal line. He forced a pass that was picked off by Jonathan Wilhite and returned 99 yards for a touchdown. Brennan tried the old "I was just trying to make a play" excuse after the game, but that doesn't hold water. He basically surrendered 10 points with that ill-advised throw -- seven to the Patriots and three that he took away from the Skins. I liked that he came right back with the touchdown to Mitchell, but it wasn't enough to overshadow the interception in my mind. I do like the way Brennan handles screens. He's athletic enough to spin away from trouble and dump the ball to Marcus Mason on the run. Not as easy as it looks.
Hated to see Mason get the bruised ribs in the fourth quarter. It's hard to recover from those when you're taking a lot of punishment at running back. I think Mason's put himself in position to challenge Ladell Betts for the backup role. He's more explosive than Betts in my mind, and he's a better change-of-pace back. Mason puts more pressure on defenses -- both on the ground and through the air -- than Betts.
Hello, Anthony Alridge!: I've been waiting to see this guy all preseason. The former University of Houston star -- as proud U of H alum Nantz noted several times -- has elite speed. He's only about 5-foot-9, but as you saw Friday night, no one can seem to get a clean shot on him. I know he was going against the Patriots' backups, but Alridge still popped off the screen. I hope the guy gets a shot. Last year, the Redskins didn't have enough depth at running back. But with Mason, Dominique Dorsey, Betts and Alridge, they look a lot better this season.
Does Chad Rinehart frustrate you guys as much as he does me? I thought he had his moments, but the guard just sort of looks lost at times. On a play in the second half, he let a Patriots defensive tackle race right past him. The p
layer ended up being flagged for hitting Brennan too low. But that never happens if Rinehart does his job. It's like he never he even made an attempt at the guy. I'd hoped Rinehart would be a lot farther down the road at this point. Too many mental mistakes from what I'm seeing. Zorn will want to cut Rinehart after watching that play. Not saying he will, but the thought will cross his mind.
I'm not sure why Zorn doesn't run the ball inside the 10-yard line. In the second half, I kept wondering why Zorn wouldn't let Mason or Alridge have a chance to run the ball near the goal line. He seemed intent on letting Brennan find someone in the end zone. That would've been a good test for the offensive line to try to plow it in there.
Did the Skins not think the Patriots would blitz? In the second half, a linebacker for the Patriots (Guyton?) came clean from the right side. It's like the Redskins were shocked that Bill Belichick might send an extra rusher.
H.B. Blades is a bad man: How great was that stick he put on Fred Taylor? You don't want to get caught running high when Blades is anywhere around. He absolutely destroyed Taylor, causing him to spin in the air like a merry-go-round.
With 4:30 left in a meaningless games, I find myself shouting at Brennan: When your team's in field goal position, how in the world do you take a sack? This might have been the point when I actually knew Daniel would make the team ahead of Brennan. Just a bone-headed play right there. Once you've escaped the pocket and don't see anything, fling it out of bounds. That play set up Shaun Suisham's miss from 52 yards. Everyone can try to pile on my man Suisham, but that was all Brennan's fault.
What's the deal with the coverage? You're in a close game in the fourth quarter and you let Patrick Chung just shred the punt coverage unit? The punt certainly wasn't high enough (46 yards in length), but someone has to at least force Chung to make a move. He darts toward the sideline and coverage completely fell apart. Bad, bad play right there on special teams.
I'll be keeping my eye on the Cowboys and Giants this evening. Thanks for your continued interest.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- Cowboys assistant athletic trainer Greg Gaither has been released from Baylor University Medical Center, according to the club. By the way, Gaither is one of the unsung heroes for the Cowboys. He's a guy who works ridiculous hours and is constantly upbeat. Players swear by him. Oh, and he reads this blog every morning.
- In other Cowboys news, crews are working around the clock to complete the new stadium.
- Todd Archer wrote about the Nick Folk hip surgery in the Dallas Morning News.
- Donovan McNabb is the most recognizable athlete in Philly, according to John Gonzalez of the Inquirer.
- Linebacker Chris Gocong helps out a local science class.
- The return of Favre would be a bad thing for the Eagles, according to Paul Domowitch.
- Hakeem Nicks is drawing comparisons to Michael Irvin.
- Jeremy Bridges is looking for a fresh start with the Redskins.
- Don't expect H.B. Blades to go in the tank just because Brian Orakpo's on the scene.
- Here's another story on Bridges from the Washington Post.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News reports that Jerry Jones had no comment regarding T.O.'s recent comments about his release.
- Clarence E. Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has more on the T.O. story.
- Former Cowboys linebacker Zach Thomas has some experience with the Dallas cop who detained Ryan Moats.
- Todd Archer of the DMN takes a look at what it will be like for Wade Phillips to serve as his own defensive coordinator.
- Jerry Jones gave national lawmakers a tour of his new stadium over the weekend.
- Here's Les Bowen's reaction to Andy Reid's comments at the NFL owners' meeting.
- Larry O'Rourke says it's been a busy offseason for several former Eagles.
- It looks like UConn RB Donald Brown will be visiting the Eagles on April 7.
- Even if he reaches a plea agreement with the Manhattan district attorney, it looks like Plaxico Burress will spend some time behind bars.
- Ralph Vacchiano of The Blue Screen blog has some names you might be interested in.
- Did you know that the players' new union chief was once a college mascot?
- Looks like Phillip Daniels will be back with the Redskins soon.
- Jason LaCanfora continues his "position battles" series. Today he's talking strong-side linebacker. Fincher or Blades?
- Dan Steinberg breaks down some interesting Jason Taylor quotes.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- Jean-Jacques Taylor calls Adam "Pacman" Jones a "fool," and says there's no way he can be trusted.
- Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that Pacman has become Jerry Jones' "significant other." He also discusses Jerry's repeated use of the word "jivin'" that was used to describe what led to the infamous bathroom brawl.
- Mac Engel talks about how the Cowboys are hiding behind no formal charges being filed.
- Todd Archer talks about the contingency plan at cornerback. But it's tough for Wade Phillips to look that far ahead. Heck, he didn't even know Pacman had a four-man security detail.
- You may have heard about the "Fire Andy Reid" petition that's going around. Well, Bob Brookover is here to defend Reid.
- Ashley Fox is writing about the Eagles' defense. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson thinks the team's about to turn things around.
- Former Eagles safety Michael Lewis will face his old team Sunday. He says he's moved on. And he's written some excellent books.
- Here's yesterday's practice report from the incomparable Les Bowen.
- Is it really a good idea for the Browns to be taunting Brandon Jacobs?
- Funny that Jacobs makes fun of a player's grammar in Tom Rock's Newsday report.
- Plax hasn't missed a step, according to this report in the Post.
- It looks like Jason Taylor will be ready for the Rams game.
- Rocky McIntosh doesn't feel compelled to say much -- or anything.
- Jason La Canfora is talking about the Redskins' lack of sacks.
- H.B. Blades has become a huge contributor for the Redskins.
- My NFC East chat begins in two minutes.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Greetings from Lincoln Financial Field, where we're about an hour away from kickoff. It's 66 degrees with 63 percent humidity right now. We'll have a high of 73.
In other news, the Redskins will be without starting cornerback Shawn Springs (calf) and linebacker Marcus Washington (hamstring) for today's game against the Eagles. Fred Smoot and H.B. Blades will start.
For the Eagles, Brian Westbrook (ankle) will return after missing last Sunday's game against the Bears. Westbrook came out about two and a half hours before the game and appeared to be cutting pretty well. I still think Correll Buckhalter could end up carrying the load, but Westbrook's presence gives the Eagles a lift.
The Eagles are also missing Pro Bowl right guard Shawn Andrews, but we knew he was going to be out. Andrews doesn't seem to be making much progress with his back, and that's something we should keep our eye on.
Here's the entire list of inactives: Eagles: QB A.J. Feeley (emergency), LB Joe Mays, DE Bryan Smith, G Shawn Andrews, G Mike McGlynn, WR Kevin Curtis, TE Matt Schobel, DE Victor Abiamiri Redskins: QB Colt Brennan (emergency), CB Shawn Springs, S Justin Hamilton, LB Marcus Washington, DE Jason Taylor, T Stephon Heyer, T Chad Rinehart.
Final Indianapolis 28 Cincinnati 42 Final Atlanta 21 Green Bay 22 Final Cleveland 26 New England 27 Final Oakland 27 New York 37 Final Detroit 20 Philadelphia 34 Final Miami 34 Pittsburgh 28 Final Buffalo 6 Tampa Bay 27 Final Kansas City 45 Washington 10 Final Minnesota 26 Baltimore 29 Final Tennessee 28 Denver 51 Final St. Louis 10 Arizona 30 Final New York 14 San Diego 37 Final Seattle 17 San Francisco 19 Final Carolina 13 New Orleans 31