As one half of the Pro Football Hall of Fame game the Dallas Cowboys began training camp before just about everybody else in the National Football League. We’re now a bit deeper into camp which means other teams have caught up and are starting to hit the meaty part of this time of year.
This is the case for the rest of the NFC East who don’t begin preseason play until next week. There are still some interesting things happening in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, which is why we are here for our weekly catch-up of divisional news.
Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Lee Gowton and I discuss the division and its current happenings every week on the NFC East Mixtape, a podcast that is available on both BGN’s and our podcast network. Please make sure to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network (Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here). If you can also leave a rating and write a review, those things really help and are very much appreciated.
It is possible that you have had some Cowboys tunnel vision what with Dak Prescott’s muscle strain situation and CeeDee Lamb dominating throughout practices, but there is quite the storm brewing in one particular NFC East spot.
New York Giants: Massive team-wide brawl breaks out during first padded practice
Throughout the offseason I said multiple times that the only team in the entire NFC who I am confident will be worse than the Giants is the Detroit Lions. I’m personally not too high on New York this season.
Perhaps time will prove me wrong, though. Maybe the G-Men will be better organized under Joe Judge in his second year with the team. The results of Tuesday’s practice - nothing big, just a team-wide melee - don’t exactly line up with those kind of hopes, though.
The melee began during the final 11-on-11 period of practice when Corey Clement, after a nice cutback run that launched him into the secondary, got blasted to the ground by Jabrill Peppers. Tight end Evan Engram jumped to Clement’s defense. Defensive back Logan Ryan went after Engram.
Chaos at midfield involving what seemed like every player in uniform ensued.
Judge did not enjoy the proceedings.
The coach broke up the fight with an expletive-filled tirade that lasted several minutes. Players ended up running multiple 100-yard sprints, doing pushups, then repeating the sprints and pushup. All the while they were harangued by an irate head coach.
“You’ve got to know what comes with it,” said Clement. “You better enjoy this fight in the meantime because you know some consequences are coming.”
Fortunately, there were no apparent injuries as a result of the melee.
Jones said he was “all good” after extricating himself from the middle of the fight.
Why did he throw himself into the fracas?
“I’m part of the team, part of the offense and we’re competing,” Jones said. “I don’t see myself separate from them.”
The Jones in question, the one who was in the “middle of the fight”, is in fact the team’s starting quarterback! All due respect to Daniel Jones for not backing down from what is going on, but if there is any sort of heightened intensity like this going on it would be wise for the most important player on the team to remove themselves from any potential danger.
Maybe this fight will be the tone-setter for a great Giants season, but it was not the only bad news to emerge from their headquarters on Tuesday as recently-signed wide receiver Kenny Golladay now has a slight hamstring pull. Injuries suck.
Also speaking of “fight” a certain former Dallas Cowboys head coach was seen at Tuesday’s practice wearing a t-shirt with that written on it. The nerve. Those “Fight.” t-shirts were our eternal connection to him.
Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith is week-to-week with a knee sprain
The biggest story concerning the Eagles right now is honestly that the Indianapolis Colts’ first-round pick in 2022 likely will not belong to them after all what with the injuries sustained by Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson. Such is life in Philadelphia.
Where things are most pressing for the Eagles right now do seem to be with their own current first-rounder. Rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith was injured during their Saturday practice last week and was diagnosed with an MCL sprain that will keep him out 2-3 weeks.
Obviously, it’s still not great news, and the rest of the wide receiver has more than a few question marks, but fortunately second-year WR Jalen Reagor has returned the field after missing the first few days of team drills. Additionally, they have Travis Fulgham, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Jhamon Ausbon, John Hightower, Andre Patton, and Greg Ward to take reps in the meantime. Michael Walker went to the trainers tent early in Monday’s practice.
Smith was also working a bit with special teams on punt return, but coordinator Michael Clay said that it was more of a “good to be prepared” situation rather than a regular plan for the first-round draft pick.
The good news is, he’s spent a lot of time with Jalen Hurts this offseason so they’ve already established a good amount of chemistry and rapport before he was sidelined. Here’s hoping he’s back on the field in no time and has no lingering issues as we get closer to the preseason.
Beyond Smith, the Eagles don’t exactly have a wide receiver room that inspires confidence. Given the timeframe associated with the rookie’s return it doesn’t appear like the regular season is at all in doubt for him, keep in mind that the Cowboys host Philadelphia in Week 3 on Monday Night Football.
Washington Football Team: There isn’t a whole lot going on honestly
When it came time to discuss WFT on this week’s NFC East Mixtape BLG and I were both of the mindset that things have been rather boring for them. There simply hasn’t been a ton of football-related news for the Football Team.
The largest headline for Washington throughout camp has been how they have been among the teams in the NFL with the lowest levels of vaccination rates. Things are on the rise, though.
The Washington Football Team has been at the bottom of the NFL in vaccination rate for a few weeks now, and that has been a national headline. The team opened training camp in Richmond, VA last Tuesday, and since then they have placed 7 players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Ron Rivera has made it increasingly clear to the players and the media that getting vaccinated is not just about your health, and the health of those around you, but the team’s health in a competitive setting.
Washington has been around 60% vaccinated, but Mike Jones is reporting(and John Keim is confirming) that 84% of Washington’s current 90-man roster has received at least one vaccine shot. The NFL has made it much more uncomfortable to remain unvaccinated, and there are different protocols for vaccinated players(for now). The league released an updated set of guidelines a week ago that spell out the fines and possible loss of game checks that could result from disregarding protocols.
Ron Rivera fought cancer last year, and is still immunocompromised, which has been a big underlying story that has been linked with the team’s low vaccination rate. He has continued to state that while it is an individual choice, that choice has consequences personally and professionally. The organization has brought in experts to speak to players like Montez Sweat who have publicly voiced their concerns about getting vaccinated. They also set up a vaccination day on Sunday following the conclusion of their time in Richmond. Rivera was pleased with the turnout, and obviously these efforts have been working to convince players that the vaccine is a safe choice.
We are entering the second NFL season where Covid is a factor and as noted by Hogs Haven the league has taken measures that they feel are best for the overall cause.
Time will tell if things on this front improve for Washington as the season approaches, for now we will continue to wait for more updates.