Sunrise in the NFC East: The Division's Top Links on August 15, 2012

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

Mar 30, 2012; Austin, TX, USA; Jeff Demps of Florida wins a 100m heat in 10.29 in the 85th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays at Mike A. Myers Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

The countdown continues as we're now only three weeks away from the primetime opener between the Cowboys and the Giants.

In case you haven't noticed, we've adopted a new approach to the links post lately, one where we highlight only one story for each team and spend a little time reacting. Well, today's special because it feels like there are just so many good stories, and it just so happens that's I'm indecisive this morning. As a result—for one day only—we're reverting back to the old system and will do some jumping around.


Dallas Cowboys

From Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: The Cowboys have a new package in which they're using three inside linebackers at the same time

It's just another indication that the battle between Dan Connor and Bruce Carter might not matter much. We'll be seeing a lot of both players this year, and apparently even at the same time. 

From Calvin Watkins of Jason Garrett wasn't happy with the number of penalties the Cowboys took Monday night in Oakland.

There were 12 in total for 91 yards. I know it's the first preseason game but penalties were somewhat of an issue last year, too. Dallas was the fifth-most penalized team in football in 2011. So that's probably adding to Garrett's frustration.


New York Giants

From Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News: The Giants defensive line has been ravaged by injuries, the latest of which has cost Shaun Rogers his season.

Chris Canty is out and might have trouble getting back for the start of the season, while Marvin Austin and Justin Trattou continue to sit as well. The Giants are lucky that their big three ends and Linval Joseph are unscathed. Now, they'll have to hope a guy like Adrian Tracy can keep rising.

From Paul Schwartz of the New York Post: Could training camp beds be exacerbating that injury problem? Linval Joseph seems to think it's possible.

Marvin Austin and Will Beatty are both dealing with back issues and Joseph says his back is also hurting him. Read this story just for the golden quotes from Martellus Bennett.

From Steve Serby of the New York Post: Justin Tuck contemplated retirement when he was dealing with a bad shoulder injury early last year. 

Easy to say that now, I guess, but there's no telling how close Tuck was. He's only 29 years old and he had been pretty healthy throughout his career until last year. Still, now we'll have this in the back of our minds next time Tuck is struggling with anything.


Philadelphia Eagles

From CSN Philly's Rueben Frank: Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps is attempting to make the transition to football, and he intrigues the Eagles.

For some reason, these stories break every four years. Nothing ever comes of any of these guys, mainly because football is a nuanced game that requires years to training and preparation to master.

These guys can run really fast in a straight line. Can he block? Can he catch? Can he carry the ball properly and avoid fumbles? Will his stance tip plays to defenses? Can he take hits? How quickly can he memerize a playbook? It's just ridiculous.

But, Demps actually played the game at Florida, winning a national championship and putting up gaudy averages in limited opportunities. That's why this is a story to watch.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer's Bob Ford: Andy Reid feels better about this year's training camp than last.

"There were a lot of moving parts [last year]," Reid said. "That isn't an excuse, so I don't want it to be taken that way because everybody had to deal with it . . . I thought it was important that we came together as a team. I thought we had good players, but . . . you've got to come together as a team and that takes a little time. When I reflected at the end of the season, it was too late, but I felt we had joined hands . . . which you wanted to do sooner than what we did."

I'd agree, because last year's camp and preseason didn't exactly set the bar high. Still a lot to work on as they return to Philadelphia for the rest of August.


Washington Redskins

From Mike Jones of the Washington Post: Tanard Jackson could be gaining ground on Madieu Williams in a battle for snaps at free safety. 

That's probably the position battle to watch now on a roster that is fairly settled. Jones breaks down every position and notes that it looks like Jarvis Jenkins will be a backup.

From Mark Maske of the Washington Post: Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger says he'll be back for the season opener.

Sometimes players just say these things even when they have no idea. Considering what's been going on with that balky knee of his, I'd say Lichtensteiger is just staying optimistic. The Redskins had better hope that works, though, because he's the most important injured player on the roster (excluding Trent Williams, who isn't out long).