Sunrise in the NFC East: The Division's Top Links on August 8, 2012

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 8, 2012

ASHBURN, VA - JULY 26:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins looks on during training camp at Redskins Park on July 26, 2012 in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Exactly four weeks from today, we'll be kicking off the 2012 NFL season in NFC East fashion with an intra-divisional showdown between the first two teams listed in this links post. I find that the preseason, which starts tomorrow, always flies by, so expect that to feel more like two weeks. 

In the meantime, here are four of the top stories pertaining to the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles and Redskins.


Dallas Cowboys

We have a pair of stories this morning on DeMarco Murray. First, Calvin Watkins of writes on how Murray has to build on his super-duper rookie season.

Murray has made plays throughout the entire offseason and in training camp. He has shown speed, lateral movement and power. He's not afraid of contact, especially inside where some questioned whether he would be able to take the pounding.

Murray is also showcasing his versatility. He's catching more passes out of the backfield and beat Sean Lee for a catch the other day in camp.

And when you talk about the core group of players for the Cowboys, Murray's name needs to be mentioned.

But there's one big caveat.

Murray has to avoid a sophomore slump. He has to build off his rookie campaign and have a 1,000-plus yard rushing season to prove 2011 wasn't a fluke.

And from Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: The Cowboys have heightened expectations for Murray, whom they might be looking at differently than any other running back they've had in the post-Emmitt Smith era.

The Cowboys also are seeing a complete running back who can finally bring stability to the ground game not seen since Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith departed in 2002.

The revolving door at running back has included the likes of Troy Hambrick, Julius Jones, Marion Barber and Felix Jones, taking their turns trying to live up to the Cowboys' Hall of Fame legacy at the position.

There are those in the Cowboys' organization who believe Murray has a chance to be one of the great ones, like Smith and Tony Dorsett, though Murray is not ready to go that far.

I wrote last week on how Murray can become the team's first reliable, franchise back since Smith. He has the tools, but he'll have to stay healthy and work on being more consistent if that's something that can even be "worked on."


New York Giants

From Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News: While the Jets are going full Royal Rumble in Cortland, it took the Giants 10 training camp practices for some feistiness to break out in Albany

There were a couple of times where players locked up after a play and seemingly gave some consideration to pushing and shoving. There was even one that looked like it had real potential when receiver Domenik Hixon and cornerback Prince Amukamara grabbed each other after a play and stood there ... and stared ...

... and stared ... and stared.

The defensive backs on the sideline started laughing. Justin Tuck even yelled "Don't waste daylight if you aren't going to fight!"

Asked about the scuffles after practice, Tom Coughlin even asked "What scuffles?"

The odd throwdown between two testosterone-jacked teammates can't hurt, but I get the feeling teams that experience training camps like this have better regular season success rates than those that have camps like the one the Jets are going through. It's been a very harmonious camp for the Giants, and that's a very good thing.


Philadelphia Eagles

From Tim McManus of An estimated 900 people attended Garrett Reid's funeral, including a who's who of NFL luminaries.

Chris Berman exited the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Broomall Tuesday alone, with his head respectfully down, sunglasses on, and hands in his pockets.

Steve Mariucci and Mike Mayock left side-by-side. Ditto Brent Celek and Todd Herremans, friends and teammates that always find their way next to one another in social settings. Slowly the estimated 900 people here to honor the late Garrett Reid, and the Reid family, trickled out.

Howie Roseman and Mike Holmgren stood just outside the side entrance as NFL luminaries of all kind passed below them. The league had a massive presence, from commissioner Roger Goodell to Mickey Loomis to Bill Belichick. Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook were there, along with every single member of the current Eagles team.

This story will fade soon, but Garrett won't ever be forgotten in Philadelphia or in NFL circles. Reid is returning to the team today, which hopefully helps with the healing process. Unofficially, the Eagles are pretty much dedicating this season to the Reid family. With the "Dream Team" karma now a thing of the past, I expect big things on the field.


Washington Redskins

Neil Hornsby of Pro Football Focus rolled into Ashburn Monday as part of his training camp tour, and he was quite unimpressed with Robert Griffin III:

Griffin looked out of his depth, threw many inaccurate and often dangerous passes, and very few good ones; this was not a good day for him. In the play selection there appeared to be an awful lot of roll-outs, where he faked the hand-off, came back against the grain and looked for an open man. The problem was he was often pressured by the defense and subsequently made bad decisions or under-threw his targets.

This isn't the first negative report we've seen regarding RG3 at camp. None should be surprising, but I suppose people are still a little rattled because Griffin looked so good in organized team activities. I also think Cam Newton's ridiculous 2011 rookie campaign has ruined things for all blue chip rookie signal-callers going forward.


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