Football will finally be played for real this weekend! After a long offseason and an interesting preseason that saw the emergence of Cooper Rush and Rico Gathers, the 2017-18 NFL regular season will finally kickoff on Thursday as the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Foxborough to take on Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
On Sunday, the Washington Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles at 1:00 ET time. The New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys end the day filled of football in primetime on Sunday Night Football. With that said, how do the three other NFC East teams look heading into week one?
New York Giants
Week One: @Dallas 9/10 - 7:30 p.m. CT
Well, let’s start off with the big news: OBJ.
The star wideout for the New York Giants suffered an injury against the Cleveland Browns in a preseason game on this legal, but controversial, hit.
If you do this in a pre-season game, you should be suspended for the ENTIRE REGULAR SEASON. pic.twitter.com/f67pxykqqB— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) August 22, 2017
It’s been a couple weeks since that hit occurred, though. What’s the receiver's status for week one? Some reports suggest that Beckham could potentially miss Sunday night’s battle. Others believe that Odell will be a full go by the time the Giants leave for Arlington. Nonetheless, OBJ’s game is largely built on his explosiveness and big play ability. How much of that would be impacted by this injury?
Matt Bonesteel of the Washington Post has the latest:
He didn’t play in New York’s final two exhibitions and hasn’t practiced with the team since then. It was more of the same Monday as the Giants began preparations for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys.
Odell riding a bike at the start of today's practice. pic.twitter.com/Zoh5afOodc— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) September 4, 2017
It wasn’t much, but according to NJ Advance Media’s Dan Duggan, it was the first time Beckham has been spotted on the sideline of a Giants practice since the injury. So that’s a good sign. A bad sign is that Beckham still isn’t going through full practices with just six days to go before the opener (according to reports, he went inside the team’s facility after his stationary bike ride).
New York Coach Ben McAdoo was the essence of noncommittal in his remarks to reporters afterward.
It’s all speculation regarding Beckham as of now. It will be interesting to see he returns this weekend, or if the Giants decide to play it safe and let him rest for a week or two.
Other News to Know:
The Giants added some new weapons for quarterback Eli Manning over the offseason. In free agency, the Giants made a splash by signing wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Marshall comes over from the New York Jets and looks to make a huge 1-2 duo with Beckham Jr. Then in the draft, New York selected Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram — perhaps the best receiving tight end in all of college football. Although New York’s line is awful, the Giants decided to go ahead and give Manning some more weapons instead.
Serby of the NY Post says Eli will prove them right this season.
“I feel I got a lot of great football ahead of me, no reason I can’t have one of my best seasons ever this year,” Manning tells The Post, “so I’m looking forward to it.”
Reese got him tall targets Brandon Marshall and No. 1 draft tight end Evan Engram and a free-agent fullback (Shane Smith) and blocking tight end (Rhett Ellison) following a year when Victor Cruz wasn’t the Victor Cruz everyone longed for last season, Sterling Shepard was a rookie and Paul Perkins was a rookie, and every time McAdoo peered down at his playlist menu, JUST GIVE ODELL THE DAMN BALL screamed out at him.
“I think the fullback and multiple tight ends will help us out in keeping us different formations, different personnel, and I think that’ll help us out so teams’ll have to prepare for more things,” Manning said.
Despite suffering a shoulder injury, Brandon Marshall says he will be ready for Dallas.
“I’ll be out there,” Marshall said in his first public comments since suffering the injury two weeks ago. “I feel good. Other than the hit I took out there in Cleveland the body feels amazing. This is probably the only camp that I had that I really didn’t have anything. That is kind of encouraging being 33 and trying to be aware of where I’m at and keep track and be mindful so I know how to treat it.
“I feel amazing.”
Week One: @Washington - 1:00 p.m. ET
The Eagles are preparing for Sunday’s afternoon in-division clash with the Redskins. However, quarterback Carson Wentz believes Philadelphia can clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2013. With all of the talent that Philly has surrounded him with — receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith and running back LeGarrette Blount — Wentz doesn’t have the luxury of falling back on the “not surrounded with talent” excuse that was made for him last season.
Wentz says the Eagles “know” that they can “be dynamic” this season, writes Rob Maaddi:
"We know we can be dynamic," Wentz said. "We just have got to be consistent and stay ahead of the change and be disciplined."
Wentz has all the intangibles to go along with his football skills. He's known for his strong work ethic, is an excellent leader and teammates love him. Wentz hosted a cookout for his offensive linemen at his home in New Jersey during the offseason and worked out with the receivers back in his hometown in North Dakota. The players bonded and built chemistry on and off the field.
"It just shows the leadership that Carson has and the rapport he has with the receivers and the confidence that he has in those guys," coach Doug Pederson said. "It's something that's exciting as a coach to know your guys are getting together, working on their craft. It means something to them, it's important to them, and that's exciting for me."
The Eagles haven't won a playoff game since 2008 and haven't reached the dance since 2013.
We’ll see if things change for Wentz and the Eagles.
Other News to Know:
Wentz is still learning how to handle being “the man” for the Eagles.
“I feel like what I am and who I am is kind of out there," he said. "I do like being low-key, I do like being private, for the most part. I think this business, this world that I’ve come into, is really cool, but it can be a lot sometimes and sometimes it’s just nice to go home and be chill and be away from everything. But it’s cool at the same time.
"I definitely do enjoy it. There are perks of it. Honestly, seeing kids and stuff? That part’s really cool. Seeing how excited they can get. But at the same time, there are times I just want to go into Target real quick and or have something go on in my life so there’s those things.
"But honestly? What people know about me? That’s who I am and what I am and there's really not a lot more to it.”
The Eagles kept a total of five running backs on their 53-man roster: Former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, veteran Darren Sproles, second-year back Wendell Smallwood, and rookies Corey Clement (UDFA) and Donnel Pumphrey (fourth-round selection). BGN found out how exactly Doug Pederson plans to use his backs.
HOW WILL THE RUNNING BACKS BE USED?
“Well, I think number one, obviously, we’re not going to take five into the game. One of them will be [inactive], obviously. Maybe even two, depending on our needs for that particular week. And now that we get into these weeks, begin to game plan a little bit and get a little specific with guys by personnel, by play type, and really hone that in this week. So it starts on Wednesday. We begin our base game plan. And then we carry it on to Thursday, Friday, and get these guys going.”
According to Gowton, Pederson won’t commit to giving free agent acquisition Blount the feature back role.
IS LEGARRETTE BLOUNT THE FEATURED BACK AS FAR AS YOU WANT TO SPLIT CARRIES?
“Again, it goes back to the game plan, quite honestly. We understand that LeGarrette might be a little different runner even than [Darren] Sproles and Wendell [Smallwood]. So I think it’s game-plan specific. It’s hard to go into a game saying, ‘LeGarrette, you’re going to get X number of touches’ because you never know what the game’s gonna — what circumstances might be posed during the game. So it’s going to be a great effort by all three guys each and every week. Want to get all of them obviously involved in the game plan.”
Week One: vs. Philadelphia - 1:00 p.m. CT
There was some huge news concerning the Washington Redskins that broke out over the weekend. Second-year safety/linebacker hybrid Su’a Cravens reportedly let the Redskins know that he would be retiring at only 22 years old, but the ‘Skins management talked him out of it.
Su'a Cravens told some Redskins on Saturday he plans to retire, but a meeting with team officials has changed his mind for now, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 3, 2017
Redskins officially placed 22-year-old safety Su'a Cravens, who is mulling retirement, on their Exempt/Left Squad list.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 3, 2017
Here is Schefter’s report:
Washington Redskins safety Su'a Cravens told some within the organization this weekend that he is planning to retire, but a meeting with the team's coaches and executives has changed his mind for now, according to league sources.
Cravens must sit out for a month, at which point the Redskins will have to make a decision about his status.
Cravens informed the other defensive backs in a group chat Saturday night that he was going to retire and then exited the session by saying "Peace out," a source said. They were upset with him and what they heard.
Cravens was a big-time player for the Redskins as a rookie. Able to play all over the field, the former USC star was one of the rare bright spots on a defense that often struggled last season. He looked to be on his way to lots of success in the NFL. But, as Schefter reports, those close to him are not all that surprised about the latest news.
One person who played with Cravens in the past and considers him a friend said he was not surprised when he heard the news Sunday. He added that you never know if a player loves the game until he faces adversity.
This certainly a huge development to keep tabs on.
Others News to Know:
As the Redskins fan base and writers were wondering how Cravens was feeling after speaking with management and the news breaking out, the Redskins safety may have given some more hints about his current mental state on his Snapchat account.
In the 65-second piece, Cravens started by saying he wanted to post something on Snapchat to bring light to his situation, but then said, “I don’t feel like I need to explain myself. I don’t feel like I have to. I think I need to follow what makes me happy, get my mental right, my well-being right, my family right.”
There is much more to life than just the game of football. We all hope and pray that Cravens is able to find inner peace and happiness.
Many believe that Dallas and New York are the top two teams in a stacked NFC East, but Whyno makes the case that the Redskins will still be a contender to make the playoffs.
An uncertain NFC East gives Washington a chance for its first three consecutive winning seasons since the early 1990s.
"We've had some great times, we've had some bad times," left tackle Trent Williams said. "We have a lot of talent on this team, and we have a lot of confidence."
Confidence, as Cousins acknowledged, "is a great thing in this league, but you can't fake it."
The Redskins lost their top two receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon and are coming off finishing 29th in the NFL on defense.
Even with those changes, they should be right there with the Giants, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in the division race.
This should be a very interesting weekend in the NFC BEast. All four teams are playing in-division and all four teams enter the 2017 season with high expectations. There is no shortage of headlines, either, as the Cowboys deal with Ezekiel Elliott, the Giants monitor Odell Beckham Jr., and the Redskins begin the season without Su’a Cravens.
Stay tuned for next week’s NFC BEast report!