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NFC East training-camp reports

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NFC East training-camp reports
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NFC East training-camp reports

DALLAS COWBOYS

Site: City of Oxnard Fields, Oxnard, Calif.

Report dates: July 25 (rookies), July 29 (veterans).

Key veteran arrivals: OG Mackenzy Bernadeau, CB Brandon Carr, ILB Dan Connor, OG Nate Livings, OT Pat McQuistan, QB Kyle Orton, SS Brodney Pool, FB Lawrence Vickers. 

Key veteran departures: S Alan Ball, TE Martellus Bennett, S Abram Elam, ILB Bradie James, OG Kyle Kosier, CB Terence Newman, WR Laurent Robinson.

Juiciest story lines: This is the Cowboys, and there always seems to be something burning, so the Mike Jenkins situation probably has the most attention leading into camp. He’s injured, his ego is bruised, and though the team says it will not trade him, his status with the club remains unsure. But beyond that, this is a talented team that finished a Week 17 loss (vs. the eventual-champion Giants) out of the playoffs and one that could make noise this season if things break right.

Burning questions: When will Jenkins be healthy enough to begin practicing and what is his role on the team? ... Can the Cowboys put more pressure on quarterbacks? ... Who will emerge as the No. 3 receiver with Laurent Robinson gone and no clear-cut favorite to take his spot? ... Who will start at right guard with Mackenzy Bernadeau’s injury status unclear? ... Bernadeau also was in the mix at center — is there a favorite if Phil Costa can’t step up? … Who starts at free safety? ... Is WR Dez Bryant poised to break out to the next level this season?

Fearless prediction: ILB Bruce Carter, an incredible athlete who appears to have some power in his game, breaks out as a starter opposite Sean Lee. Dan Connor might be the more instinctive player, but Carter can cover backs and tight ends and  has the upside to be special — if the Cowboys are patient and bring him along slowly with the understanding that there might be some growing pains along the way.

Fantasy nugget: In the final 11 games, not counting the Week 16 contest he was knocked out of early on, QB Tony Romo totaled 24 TD passes (plus one rushing) and only five INTs, averaging 264.6 passing yards. He had only one 300-yard game last season after Week Six, however, and now must face the loss of WR Laurent Robinson (11 TDs; signed with Jacksonville) with no clear replacement defined.

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Site: University at Albany, Albany, N.Y.

Report dates: July 24 (rookies), July 24 (veterans).

Key veteran arrivals: TE Martellus Bennett, LB Jonathan Goff, CB Dante Hughes, OT Sean Locklear, CB Antwaun Molden, LB Keith Rivers, DT Shaun Rogers.

Key veteran departures: TE Jake Ballard, RB Brandon Jacobs, WR Mario Manningham, OT Kareem McKenzie, CB Aaron Ross.

Juiciest story lines: The Giants will try to defend their Super Bowl this season, although head coach Tom Coughlin won’t paint it that way, preferring to treat each season as a fresh start. But Coughlin’s team will be in excellent shape with an attacking defense that has nearly every key piece back, a franchise quarterback in the prime of his career and some potent pieces around him. With DE Osi Umenyiora’s contract situation settled, the Giants should be relatively drama-free and ready to get down to business when they roll into Albany.

Burning questions: Who will take hold of the TE position? ... How long will WR Hakeem Nicks be out with a broken bone in his foot? ... Who will step up as the No. 3 receiver, vacated by Manningham? … How will the offensive line shake out? ... Will rookie RB David Wilson replace Ahmad Bradshaw as the starter? ... What will DT Marvin Austin look like — and what kind of shape is he in? — after missing the past two seasons with suspension (in college) and injury (as a rookie)?

Fearless prediction: Wilson opens eyes early in camp and eventually becomes too impressive early in the season to sit. He’ll replace Bradshaw as the de facto starter in the first third of the regular season and end up one of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year.

Fantasy nugget: Bradshaw was an efficient rusher inside the red zone last season, scoring touchdowns on nine of his 24 carries inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. His rushing TD totals have increased in each of the past three seasons. If healthy, he still has a role on this team.

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Site: Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.

Report dates: July 22 (rookies), July 25 (veterans).

Key veteran arrivals: OT Demetress Bell, MLB DeMeco Ryans.

Key veteran departures: RB Ronnie Brown, C Jamaal Jackson, OT Winston Justice, DT Trevor Laws, DE Juqua Parker, FB Owen Schmitt, WR Steve Smith, QB Vince Young.

Key veteran arrivals: FS Oshiomogho Atogwe, OT Demetress Bell, MLB DeMeco Ryans, OT Thomas Welch.

Key veteran departures: RB Ronnie Brown, C Jamaal Jackson, OT Winston Justice, DT Trevor Laws, DE Juqua Parker, FB Owen Schmitt, WR Steve Smith, QB Vince Young.

Juiciest story lines: No one is foolish enough to label this a “dream team” again, but the Eagles are facing some extremely high expectations again — some might even argue Super Bowl-or-bust type of expectations. The pressure is on head coach Andy Reid and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo especially to do better work this season after both took an incredible amount of heat last season during the 8-8 failure.

Burning questions: Can Michael Vick, having a strong offseason, turn things around after a poor 2011 season? ... Will Reid sidestep talk about his future and make this team a contender again? … Now that DeSean Jackson has his contract, will he reward the Eagles with a commensurate level of play? ... How will Demetress Bell handle left tackle in the wake of Jason Peters’ major injury? ... Can DeMeco Ryans and the linebackers make wholesale improvement over that unit’s disappointing ’11 season? ... Who will emerge at safety?

Fearless prediction: The Eagles put last season’s disappointment behind them and play to their talent level. Reid typically has done his best coaching with the pressure turned up. Vick knows this could be his final year in Philadelphia, and he will be far better in terms of ball security, which will make a major difference.

Fantasy nugget: The team became a far more run-based operation last season than it ever had before under Reid, and RB LeSean McCoy, not Vick, received most of the carries in the red zone. Rushing attempts inside the 10-yard line in 2011: McCoy 31, Vick five.

 

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Site: Redskins Park, Ashburn, Va.

Report dates: July 16 (rookies), July 25 (veterans).

Key veteran arrivals: WR Pierre Garcon, LB Jonathan Goff, CB Cedric Griffin, S Tanard Jackson, OLB Bryan Kehl, FS Brandon Meriweather, WR Josh Morgan, PK Neil Rackers, CB Leigh Torrence, S Madieu Williams, OLB Chris Wilson.

Key veteran departures: FS Oshiomogho Atogwe, QB John Beck, WR Jabar Gaffney, SS LaRon Landry, OG Sean Locklear, LB Rocky McIntosh, TE Mike Sellers, WR Donté Stallworth.

Juiciest story lines: There’s no question that the biggest story line is the development of QB Robert Griffin III, who has impressed nearly everyone to this point with his limited work. And Griffin’s first-year success might be tied directly to the fate of head coach Mike Shanahan, who enters his third season in Washington. You’d think the team would have to be moving in a positive direction in order for Shanahan to keep his job, but Griffin being a rookie might be enough to keep the coaching staff in place past this season.

Burning questions: Who will the starting safeties be? … Who will win the kicking battle between Graham Gano and Neil Rackers? … Will TE Chris Cooley and WR Santana Moss make the roster? … How will the new arrivals at receiver change the pecking order there? … Who starts at running back? … Will TE Fred Davis and OT Trent Williams, each one strike away from one-year suspensions, stay out of trouble?

Fearless prediction: The Redskins might not win a lot more games than they did from a year ago, but the improved team — led by the exciting Griffin — convinces owner Daniel Snyder to keep Shanahan in place in 2013. The Redskins have a lot to bring together, but they’re headed in the right direction.

Fantasy nugget: Davis finished second on the team in receptions and receiving yards, even though he missed the final four games of the season because of a suspension. Davis’ production took a big jump in ’11, setting him up for a big season in ’12, especially with an upgrade at quarterback in Griffin. But Davis only scored three touchdowns last season. The ‘Skins added Garcon and Morgan, and they change the shape of the passing game.

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