With final preseason games, final cuts, and...oh yeah...a Wednesday night season opener featuring an NFC East throwdown between the Giants and Cowboys, let's jump right into the division's news and notes that caught my attention this week:
- Not a shock, but in their final roster moves, the Giants put CB Terrell Thomas on injured reserve. Thomas has talent, but has been cursed with injuries. This will be his 2nd consecutive season missed due to injury -- this time because he couldn't recover from last year's knee surgery.
- Also going to injured reserve (meaning he'll miss the full season) is DT Shaun Rogers. Rogers suffered blood clots in his left calf, which will require blood-thinning medication. NFL violence is a no-no for someone on this kind of medication.
- WR Hakeem Nicks, who had been slowly working his way back from a broken foot, appeared in the final preseason game and reported no lingering effects. He's expected to be ready for the season opener with no restrictions.
- The name that jumped out at me from Philly's cut list was QB Mike Kafka. Most (including me) thought he'd be the team's #2 QB, but impressive preseason performances from rookie Nick Foles and veteran Trent Edwards sent Kafka packing. Perhaps most surprising was that Andy Reid couldn't figure out a trade to get a draft pick or two in exchange for Kafka.
- With his release Friday, Oshiomogho Atogwe has now been cut by two NFC East teams. He was a free agent signee last season in Washington, who cut him early in the offseason after an injury-plagued, unproductive season. He couldn't stay healthy during Philly's training camp either -- not a good sign for a 31-year old player.
- If Michael Vick looks a bit more rotund this season, it's not him. Really. To try and reduce some of the injuries he's suffered, Vick is going to thicker padding. He's been wearing Kevlar pads from Unequal Technologies, and expects to have the thicker stuff by the opener.
- The only real surprise cut from JerryWorld was WR Danny Coale, a 5th round pick this year. Coale was expected to compete for the #3 slot, but was outplayed by Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley and Andre Holmes.
- Bubble guys shouldn't get too comfortable in Dallas. They still have needs, especially along the offensive line, extra-especially at center.
- TE Jason Witten, who suffered a lacerated spleen early in the preseason will have a scan Tuesday to determine whether he can play in the Wednesday opener. Witten says he'll play if he's cleared by doctors. He has practiced the past couple days, which is an encouraging sign. It's worth noting that Dallas did claim TE Colin Cochart off waivers from the Bengals to give them some more depth at the position.
- Lots of attention was paid this week to the "Bryant Rules" -- a set of guidelines for WR Dez Bryant's off-field behavior. The rules include a midnight curfew, no alcohol, no strip clubs, and counseling twice a week. There will also be a permanent security presence with him. It sounds like a lot -- and it is. Reportedly, the rules came at Bryant's request. I think this is a smart move for the Cowboys in protecting a guy they've invested a lot in. I especially like the counseling aspect, which will hopefully help Bryant transition to a more independent lifestyle.
- Washington's final roster cuts included some surprising names. The biggest eyebrow raiser was running back Tim Hightower, who the Skins traded for last offseason. The team thought he'd be recovered enough from his ACL injury last season, but they thought wrong. It wouldn't be a shock to see Hightower brought back mid-season if his knee improves.
- The release of WR Anthony Armstrong shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. After a promising season two years ago, Armstrong played poorly last season and then hurt his shoulder in preseason. He was claimed by the Dolphins.
- I was mildly surprised to see some of the younger players who were released, including WR Terrence Austin, C Erik Cook, OT Willie Smith (who was claimed on waivers by the Raiders), LB Markus White, and LB Bryan Kehl. The Skins have already signed OT Tom Compton and DE Doug Worthington to the practice squad.
- The Skins cut all the way to 52 players (the roster limit is 53), which means there's likely a signing in the very near future. Chris Cooley's return is possible -- Washington cut him so he could pursue a starting job elsewhere (which hasn't worked out for him). They could also be hunting for a safety since Tanard Jackson has been suspended indefinitely for yet another violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
- Jackson's suspension was disappointing, but unsurprising given his history. Washington took a chance on him because he's a talented player and he had a good relationship with new secondary coach Raheem Morris. It wasn't enough. In his public comments about Jackson, Mike Shanahan always referenced Jackson's talent, but then wondered if he could be counted on. The suspension leaves Washington with Brandon Merriweather and Madieu Williams as the likely starters with DeJon Gomes, Reed Doughty and Jordan Bernstine as reserves.
- In the "for what it's worth" category: The Skins reportedly tried to trade WR Anthony Armstrong to Miami for RB Steve Slaton. A logical move given Slaton's history in the Shanahan offense. Since Miami ended up cutting him, Slaton remains a possibility for the Skins. Until then, figure on the work being shared by Alfred Morris, Evan Royster and Roy Helu.
- I'll get into this next week in my Redskins blog , but it's possible the Skins made a mistake when they jettisoned Graham Gano for Billy Cundiff. Cundiff is a solid veteran, whose booming kickoffs are more valuable than most fans know, but Gano is a youngster with a TON of promise.
- OT Jammal Brown is still struggling with hip problems and the Skins put him on the Physically Unable to Perform list. The soonest he can return is week 7. Until then, the right tackle position will be manned by Tyler Polumbus, a street free agent they signed last season who did a solid job at that position last year.
- The Skins traded former Maryland standout Kevin Barnes to Detroit for what is probably a late round draft pick. They used Barnes as their nickel corner last season, but didn't like his performance. This year, they shifted DeAngelo Hall to the slot role in nickel packages and switched Barnes to the outside where they figured his size would make him a better fit. But, he got outplayed by rookie Richard Crawford. The Skins cornerbacks now will be Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin and Crawford.