NFC East Blog
Highly touted Eagles' tight end Zach Ertz is yet to make his desired impact in the NFL. So he took a potential major step this offseason and met up with NFL legend Tony Gonzalez. Ertz says they figured out ways for him to take that next step both mentally and physically. "We talked about a lot of things," Ertz said, "When it came to football, we talked about the steps I needed to take to go from being good to great. We talked about little things — the nuances of how to run a certain route, what's advantageous against certain coverages, that sort of thing. He also talked about the importance of having a routine. He had a routine of greatness that he would do every day. He felt it gave him the edge over the competition in the long run. He also really focused on the mental side of the game. We put so much into our bodies physically and emotionally, he explained, that we kind of ignore training the brain, and learning new ways to train the brain. That's kind of what we talked about. He reads a lot of books about mental training and successful CEOs to understand what makes them successful. That's some of the knowledge that he imparted on me."
Redskins' third-round running back Matt Jones has made quite the impression this offseason. He is well aware that Alfred Morris is the overwhelming favorite to win the starting job but that won't deter him from battling for it. He plans on pushing Morris to his limits. "I'm just grinding every day to be the starter," Jones said. "I will put some pressure on Alfred [Morris]."
Dez Bryant has made it clear that he is willing to sit out regular season games if he doesn't get a long-term deal done. His agent Tom Condon has confirmed the threats are "legit". Nonetheless, Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones is not concerned with the threats. He clearly does not seem to be taking the threats seriously. "If we're still in a franchise situation with Dez, I have no doubt that he'll be leading the way against the New York Giants," Jones said. "We just know how competitive Dez is and how much he wants to beat the Giants and how much he wants to support his teammates … That one again, knowing that everybody wants to get as much as they can get, that one is not an issue that I'm concerned about at all as far as lining up against the Giants. I know that it's prohibitive to miss once you have the franchise tag on you and once you are part of the team through the franchise. It's just prohibitive to miss work. He has been doing work. As you know, he's been here and worked with coaches. And so my point is I'm not concerned. I think Dez will be ready to play."
Giants' slot receiver Victor Cruz continues to improve from a patellar tendon injury. We have heard everything from hopes that he would be ready for training camp to a potential six weeks on the PUP list. As of now, Week 1 is looking very realistic. Cruz believes he'll be close to full strength in about a month and a half. "I'm trying to listen to my body and how it feels," Cruz said. "By late July, early August, I should be somewhere around 100%."
Tony Romo hasn't participated in a Cowboys' offseason program since 2012. He has dealt with multiple back injuries and endured multiple surgeries. This offseason has been another story. The 35-year-old quarterback hasn't missed a single practice and as healthy as he's been entering a season in a long time. Romo was not able to practice in back-to-back practices in training camp last season, head coach Jason Garrett isn't sure how they'll manage Romo this summer. "I think it's early to talk about that," Garrett said. "He seems to be able to handle the workload fairly well on back-to-back days, but we'll try to treat those situations individually like we've done in the past and try to get as much work as we can without compromising any of the players."
The Giants signed Super Bowl Champion running back Shane Vereen this offseason, in what very quietly could have been one of the better signings of the offseason. At least that's what Giants' offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo believes. He has been very impressed with Vereen thus far and expects him to have a significant impact on the offense. "You can see why Shane has had some of the success he has had," McAdoo said. "He can be a quarterback's best friend in a way in the passing game."
Eagles' second-year wideout Josh Huff is expected to take the next step this season and become a fantasy relevant option in Philly. However, he has struggled with consistency this offseason, particularly with catching the ball. He is projected to be a top three receiver in Philadelphia and surpass Riley Cooper on the depth chart. Huff understands that he needs to be more focused and engaged if he wants earn more snaps though. "It's mental plays here and there, especially when I get tired, or I fall behind on a play, or I don't get back in time and I don't see the play," Huff said. "I just [want to] be more natural, more fluid, and be confident and comfortable with the way I catch the ball. Not have so many thoughts going through my mind on how I should catch a ball and just catch it naturally."
Eli Manning has made it a point to develop his upper body and arm strength this offseason. His coaches and teammates have noticed his arm strength in Giants' camp this offseason. Multiple people have praised him. "It is lively, very lively," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He has worked hard on that."
Since breaking out with the Cowboys in 2009 and 2010, Miles Austin has struggled with hamstring injuries and never really looked back to form. He had a solid 2012 but really fell off in 2013. The Cowboys let him go and he struggled through another injury plagued season with the Browns. It looked as if Austin's time in the NFL could be coming to a conclusion. Not so fast. He has looked great this offseason in Philadelphia and Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has been extremely impressed. "Been really impressed with him," Kelly said. "He's an outstanding route runner. Does a great job at getting separation at the top of his routes, understands leverage, understands coverage. He's a big target. He's got really, really good range. Catches the ball extremely well. Intelligent. Kind of knows the subtleties of the exact route running, kind of exactly where to maybe place his elbow to get separation in terms of pushing off the hip and things like that. And he's imparted that on the younger guys, which I think has really helped us to have that true veteran route runner in there, and I think he's been really good at doing that."
As we all know by now, Dez Bryant and the Cowboys are not seeing eye-to-eye when it comes his contract situation to say the least. The team has franchised him and he's threatened to sit out multiple regular season games if he doesn't get a long-term deal. Thursday was the last day of minicamp and Bryant showed up. He watched a motivational video, hung out on the sidelines and had a conversation with Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones. The two talked for about 15 minutes and even hugged before going their separate ways. Head coach Jason Garrett seemed thrilled just at the idea of having Bryant with the team. "It's great to have him here," Garrett said. "Dez obviously hasn't signed his franchise deal yet so he's not practicing. ... Dez is a special guy. He's obviously a heck of a football player, very important to our football team, his approach is really well-respected by anybody on our football team, the guys he goes against, has a great passion for the game and it's great to have him here."