Inside the NFC East

Josh Norman has been anything but quiet since receiving a five year contract including $50 million guaranteed from the Redskins. Norman’s rants have targeted his former team in Carolina, Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, and most recently Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford.  He singled out Bradford for his salary and proclaimed he can’t wait to face him twice this season as an NFC East opponent.  I view this as more of an indictment on the Eagles receivers rather than Bradford.  Besides Jordan Matthews there’s no real viable threat to make Norman worried about playing the Eagles or shutting down any of the receivers.  We’ll see how well Norman plays this year without Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis playing alongside him.  Elsewhere, rookie receiver Josh Doctson remains on the PUP list with an Achilles injury.  However, Doctson has begun to do work on the side with the training staff and head coach Jay Gruden still believes on course for Week 1.  The Skins have the luxury of playmakers which allows them to take a cautious approach with Doctson.  Starting tailback, Matt Jones, suffered a sprained shoulder and will be sidelined the remainder of preseason.  Jones missed the last five games of last season, including the playoff loss, with a hip injury.  Washington is already light at the running back position following the departure of Alfred Morris in the offseason.  Ronnie Hillman may be an option as he’s  not likely to make the Denver roster, Karlos Williams as well.  The Redskins will host the Bills in their dress rehearsal for the regular season.

The Giants will square off with their cross-town rival, the Jets, this week which could turn out to be one of the more entertaining games throughout the preseason schedule.  A familiar face in Victor Cruz may be making his long-awaited return to game action following a two year absence due to injuries.  Cruz reportedly dazzled in his return to practice on Tuesday after he’s been dealing with a lingering groin issue.  The test for Cruz will be how his body responds to live game action, and obviously getting hit by opposing players.  Rookie Sterling Shepard continues to turn heads, and has drawn big expectations from Odell Beckham, Jr. who envisions Rookie of the Year accolades.  Shepard only has one catch for 27 yards through the first two games, but Eli Manning has only attempted 9 passes total.  A healthy Victor Cruz will make for an even more effective Sterling Shepard.  A logjam exists in the Giants backfield with potentially five running backs competing for jobs.  Shane Vereen, Andre Williams, and Bobby Rainey are likely battling for the final two running back spots.  Vereen has a similar skillset to rookie Paul Perkins from UCLA who will be on the roster.  Andre Williams is the most physical back of the bunch, but his troubles catching the football have been detailed at length.  Rainey has played in the league for several years, most recently with Tampa Bay.  He’s shown some flashes during the preseason and can contribute in the kick return game as well.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Vereen doesn’t make the roster because of Perkins.

Dez Bryant suffered a concussion during Monday’s practice after a collision with safety Barry Church.  Dallas travels to Seattle for their third preseason game on Thursday night, and Bryant won’t be making the trip.  However, rookie Ezekiel Elliot will be making his Cowboys debut this week after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury.  Numerous prognosticators have predicted monster rushing totals for Zeke behind the Cowboys offensive line.  The other intriguing rookie on the offensive side of the ball for Dallas is quarterback Dak Prescott.  Prescott has wowed during his first two NFL games getting a majority of snaps in the absence of starter Tony Romo.  The rookie signal caller from Mississippi State has four passing touchdowns to go along with two rushing scores which came last week against the Dolphins.  Dallas passed on pursuing a veteran backup after Kellen Moore broke his leg during camp.  Prescott is much further along in his development than I thought he would be, but let’s see how he performs when defensive coordinators are game planning for him.





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