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NFC East preseason notes, news, and fun facts

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Checking in on the competition...

NFL: New York Giants at New York Jets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Three weeks of preseason are in the books in what seems like a never-ending wait until the regular season begins; what better time to check in with the rest of the NFC East? I’m sure their preseasons are going swimmingly, right? Let’s find out.

NEW YORK GIANTS

The offense opened things up for Eli Manning in week 3 and even with a couple throws with questionable placement, he took advantage with an 18-23, 188 yard stat line. With Odell Beckham Jr. rightfully locked into his shiny new mega-deal, this is the Eli the Giants need to show up weekly. He looked in rhythm on shorter concepts and hurt the New York Jets when they busted on the back end.

The reason they’ll have to score so much is their potentially porous defense. Starting cornerback Eli Apple was picked early and the linebackers have been abused on passing plays all preseason. The addition of Alec Ogletree was meant to fix the latter, but he will be tasked with tougher assignments than he received with the Los Angeles Rams and is merely adequate in coverage overall.

Exacerbating these issues for the Giants is the status of edge defender Olivier Vernon. He was carted off the field during Sunday’s practice for an ankle injury for which the x-rays came back negative. Reports are that it’s a sprain and a deep bruise and there’s no firm timetable for his return at this juncture.

While Vernon hasn’t lived up to his absurd contact worth $85 million, he’s the best of a bad situation and is solid against the run. With Connor Barwin nursing a knee injury, third round rookie Lorenzo Carter will have to learn on the job until the veterans get healthy.

Fun Fact: Running back Jonathan Stewart has 10 carries for -5 yards, right on pace with the 8 carries for -4 yards he had against the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles in 2017’s week 6 tilt against the Carolina Panthers.

DALLAS COWBOYS

The big rumor floating around Dallas is a that once again a player may be facing trouble.

Stephen Jones has said they haven’t heard anything regarding Randy Gregory’s status, but that they typically don’t hear anything until it’s too late. Anything tweeted by Jason La Canfora should be taken with a mountain of salt, especially something this vague, but it’s still something to track. Gregory is being used as the teams nickel pass rush specialist on passing downs.

On the other side of the ball, the offense has struggled to run the ball effectively, averaging a paltry 3.4 yards per carry. This is of course without Ezekiel Elliott taking carries, but there has been very little space created for the other running backs.

Center Travis Frederick is out indefinitely with an unfortunate, rare autoimmune disease and new starting center Joe Looney is a considerable drop-off to be generous. Not often does a missing have such a massive impact on a teams’ overall offense, but Frederick is a special talent whose presence will be sorely missed.

Fun Fact: The Cowboys turned the ball over 8 times in week 3 via 3 interceptions, 3 fumbles and two muffed punts.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Attempting to fill the loss of rookie running back Derrius Guice won’t be easy for the Redskins, who picked up veteran Adrian Peterson off the streets. Peterson has played well to this point, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he was one of the league’s least efficient running backs last year and is likely running on fumes.

Newly acquired quarterback Alex Smith struggled in week 3 preseason action against the Denver Broncos, missing open receivers and struggling to find them. It’s still early in his tenure but the possibility of him turning back into a check-down pumpkin is real.

Helping Smith when the real season starts will be the expected return of his dynamic tight end. Jordan Reed has been, shockingly, nursing a toe injury that has kept him out of preseason action. During the off-season Reed attempted stem cell injections, but those failed and he eventually went under the knife to fix both big toes.

Fun Fact: NFL Combine standout and fourth round selection Troy Apke is abysmal at tackling.