Sunrise in the NFC East: The Division's Top Links on August 17, 2012

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 17, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 11:  Tra Thomas #72 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the New York Giants on January 11, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Eagles defeated the Giants 23-11. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

It's Friday already, and three of the four NFC East teams have just over 24 hours remaining to prepare for preseason game No. 2. The Eagles get the weekend to plot out how they'll attack the Patriots, but the Giants battle the Jets, the Redskins face the Bears and the Cowboys meet the Chargers on Saturday night. 

We'll have full previews here today and a ton of reaction over the weekend. But before we get to that, here are your top links from the NFL's most popular division.


Dallas Cowboys

From Calvin Watkins of The Cowboys have wrapped up the Oxnard portion of their training camp, but they'll likely be back.

"We really like everything about it," coach Jason Garrett said about training in Oxnard. "The weather is something everybody talks about, that's a good thing, I think it allows you to get more work in. The players are more focused on what we're asking them to do instead of the Gatorade and water jug behind them. We've all practiced in some of those really, really hot Texas days where the focus isn't on competing against each other. It's where's the trainers? Where's the water? Give me a hold towel. All of that stuff. We feel like this gets you away from the mindset and lets you go to work. We got a lot of football plays to run."

I'm not usually a huge fan of camps on the road, especially when the trek is this intense, but there's something about Oxnard that I really like. I think it's cool that the Cowboys are so popular that they draw massive crowds for a camp held 1,200 miles from home. And eliminating the weather distraction is huge.


New York Giants

From Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News: Prince Amukamara knows he's going to be targeted often by opposing offenses, but he's OK with that.

"It would make sense to go at the less experienced guy," he said. "I mean, Corey is an eight-year vet. So it would make sense to come to my side. I just have to keep doing my job and force them to go other places."

“It’s always great to play knowing that the ball’s coming to your side,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to get more interceptions, or just make more plays.”

Giants fans and players (and I believe coaches) are pretty confident in Amukamara, but I'm still a little concerned. I hope I'm wrong about him, but watching him play, I don't see a starting-caliber corner. That could change, though. What Amukamara has going for him is the fact that I'm rarely right.


Philadelphia Eagles

From CSN Philly's Ray Didinger: Tra Thomas, who yesterday formally retired as an Eagle, might have been the best left tackle in team history.

He was the prototype of the modern left tackle. At 6-foot-7 and 350 pounds, he had long arms (36 1/2-inch sleeves) which gave him the wing span of a stealth bomber. A pass rusher simply could not get around him. He combined the strength of an Olympic iron pumper (he set the Florida State record with a 555-pound bench press) with the footwork of a bantamweight boxer. He was the whole package.

The Eagles aren't exactly in great shape at left tackle right now. Jason Peters was well on his way to Tra Thomas territory after a sparkling 2011 season, but he's out for the year with a ruptured Achilles. Now, Andy Reid was forced to be teased by Thomas highlights before returning to the practice field to watch Demetress Bell fight it out with King Dunlap. That's rough.


Washington Redskins

From Grant Paulsen of CBS DC: The starters will get 30-35 snaps Saturday night against Chicago, and a lot of the focus will be on Alfred Morris.

I heard from one person that Morris wasn't going to play much in Chicago until Roy Helu suffered tendonitis in his Achilles this week. Helu won't play against the Bears so the plan for Morris has now changed. He'll get plenty of work, as will speedy roster-long shot Tristan Davis.

I would have been surprised had he played much less because of Helu, but this is a huge opportunity for Morris nonetheless. He'll get earlier reps against the Bears, and a big performance could lock it up. He's the No. 1 player I'll be watching this weekend.