Training camps in the NFC East are underway and another competitive season is on the horizon. After a bad year for the division in 2015, the NFC East teams will look to rebound with the help of new coaches, quarterbacks and free agent acquisitions.
The reigning NFC East champions started camp yesterday morning and for the first time in a while the Redskins do not have a question mark at quarterback. Kirk Cousins, who once again arrived at camp in an old van, has been cemented into the starting role after a career year where he threw for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns, along with leading his team to the playoffs with a 9-7 record. The Redskins noticed, signing Cousins to a franchise tag worth $19.95 million. Now Cousins has to prove that he can replicate last season, especially now that he won’t have to look over his shoulder at camp.
As for the defense, the pressure is on Josh Norman, who signed a five-year, $75 million deal with Washington over the offseason, making him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL. But when Norman came on the map last season, he was surrounded by a fantastic defense in Carolina, and now he’ll have to play with less help in Washington, so we’ll see how it affects him on the perimeter. Staying on the defensive side of the ball, Washington lost defensive end Junior Galette for the season to a torn Achilles.
But so far the highlight of Redskins camp was Bashaud Breeland bringing his cute puppies to camp.
The Eagles opened up camp yesterday afternoon, this season with first year coach Doug Pederson at the helm. With Chip Kelly’s departure, Pederson will have to reconfigure the offense, starting with the quarterback position. Sam Bradford will likely start most of the games this season, but Carson Wentz has impressed during rookie camp, according to reports. At this point Bradford is ahead of Wentz, but it’s a long season and Wentz is progressing fast. As for the offensive skill positions, Ryan Mathews will likely be the number one running back come the season’s start, with Darren Sproles as a second option. The receivers get a little murky with Jordan Matthews, newly-acquired Rueben Randle, and beyond that a bunch of unproven guys. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles have two constants in Fletcher Cox and Malcolm Jenkins, and beyond that the Eagles have some work to do.
New York Giants
New coach Ben McAdoo has the best quarterback and wide receiver tandem in the division with Eli Manning and ODell Beckham Jr. Other than those two, McAdoo has a lot of work to do with the Giants roster. The biggest question mark coming into camp is wide receiver Victor Cruz, who missed most of 2014 and all of last season, but is set to start camp on time. The most interesting position group on the Giants should be cornerback, where the Giants brought in Janoris Jenkins to play alongside Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie. Rookie corner Eli Apple will probably be used in the slot on a nickel back if Rodgers-Cromartie and Jenkins are the starters. Olivier Vernon, who signed with the Giants for $85 million over five years should bolster a weak defensive line from last season.
The Cowboys have yet to practice and, of course, there is already drama. Randy Gregory faces a long suspension and linebacker Rolando McClain did not even make the flight to Oxnard. To make matters worse, first round pick Ezekiel Elliot was accused of assaulting his former girlfriend, but is expected to show up at camp. So basically, this is a business-as-usual training camp for the Cowboys. Aside from the suspended players, Tony Romo’s health is paramount for the Cowboys, who looks like he’s healthy coming into camp. We all saw how awful the Cowboys were last season with Romo sidelined, and if he makes it 13-14 games this season then the team should be in good shape. It appears the Cowboys have the most talent in the division, with some defensive pieces, a great offensive line, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliot and a healthy Tony Romo.