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Training Camp Confidential: NFC East Intel

Posted Aug 10, 2013

The Washington Redskins got through their preseason opener with a 22-21 come-from-behind road victory over the Tennesee Titans. Now, here's a look at the headlines around the rest of the NFC East.

The Washington Redskins got through their preseason opener with a 22-21 come-from-behind road victory over the Tennesee Titans. Now, here's a look at the headlines around the rest of the NFC East.



Headline: Arrelious Benn Out For Season With ACL Injury

The injury bug has hit Philadelphia’s receiving corps hard this training camp. Last week, the Eagles lost starting wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Now, Philly has lost an additional receiver to injury, Arrelious Benn.

What this means for the Redskins:

With Chip Kelly implementing his new up-tempo offense, the Eagles need all the reps they can get with the starting lineup intact. Given the fluidity of that situation, it will be difficult to get into any kind of offensive rhythm for Week 1 when the teams travels to FedExField for Monday Night Football.

Right now, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, and DeSean Jackson are practicing with the first team offense, but we are all familiar with Cooper’s off-the-field problems. The Redskins’ 3-4 defense can only benefit from Philly’s uncertainty at the wide receiver position, especially with a young secondary playing in their first NFL game.


Headline: Quarterback Battle Continues in Philly

Michael Vick vs. Nick Foles? Nick Foles vs. Michael Vick? The major on-the-field discussion going on in Philadelphia is the battle for the starting quarterback spot.

Head coach Chip Kelly named Michael Vick the starter for the preseason opener, but quickly noted the Foles would start the second preseason game. Both played reasonably well in the first half of the first game, leaving the team no closer to an answer for Week 1. 

What this means for the Redskins:

This quarterback controversy both helps and hurts the Redskins. It helps the Redskins, because the Eagles will not get as many reps with their starting quarterback as most NFL teams get during the preseason. It also creates division within the locker room as players attempt to rally around their starter--whomever that may be.

It could also put the Redskins at a disadvantage in their defensive preparation. Not only will the Chip Kelly offense be a mystery in Week 1, but preparing for two totally differnt quarterbacks requires vastly different game planning.

Vick is an electrifying runner with gun-slinging arm strength, while Foles, who has been known to run, is not nearly as dangerous as Vick in the open space. Don't think Chip Kelly isn't relishing the opportunity to delay the Redskins' gameplan for as long as possible, even at the detriment of his own locker room.



Headline: Competition Leaves Running Back Cloudy

Giants’ second-year running back David Wilson is battling Andre Brown for the primary running back spot. Andre Brown led the Giants with nine rushing touchdowns last season, and although Wilson led the NFL in kick return yards, he still has to show the New York coaching staff that he can carry the load on offense.

What this means for the Redskins:

The Redskins’ returning front-seven has experience in stopping the run game, especially with the return of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and nose tackle Chris Neild. Brown and Wilson had a combined 23 yards in two games against Washington last year.

The only Giants’ back that could get anything done last year against the Redskins was Ahmad Bradshaw, and he’s now playing for Indianapolis. The Giants have gone with a two-back system in recent years, helping to establish that NFL trend.

If Washington can eliminate the running game, their rebuilt secondary will have an easier job keeping receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks in check. A two-back system can sometimes backfire when both backs are spinning their wheels.


Headline: One Giant Offensive Line Battle

Veteran tackle David Diehl is battling first-round pick Justin Pugh for the starting right tackle position. Additionally, three of the four anticipated starters on the line are coming off injuries from 2012.

What this means for the Redskins:

The Giants allowed only 20 sacks last season, the best in the NFL, but starters Chris Snee and David Baas are coming off injuries. Pugh could provide stability to an offensive line that is getting long in the tooth.

If the Redskins are going to beat New York, their defense needs to get to Eli Manning. But if the Giants’ offensive line is banged up late in the season, (the teams do not meet until Week 13) the Redskins front line could have a field day.



Headline: Can DeMarco Murray Stay Healthy?

Running back DeMarco Murray missed six games last year due to injury and has not played a full season since college. Many believe he is capable of having a career-year if he can last 16 games. The Cowboys have had three different opening day starting running backs in the last three seasons.

What this means for the Redskins:

Tony Romo threw for over 600 yards and five TDs in two games against the Redskins in 2012. If the Cowboys can establish a solid running game with a healthy DeMarco Murray, they could cause major trouble for the Redskins’ defense.

However, the Cowboys do not have an established backup for Murray, so if he struggles with injuries, Dallas will have a difficult time running the ball against the Redskins.   

Washington faces the Cowboys in 2013 for the first time in Week 6 in Dallas with the Redskins coming off a bye week. The team won its first game after the bye week under head coach Mike Shanahan last season.




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