Sunrise in the NFC East: The Division's Top Links on August 24, 2012

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 24, 2012

Photo via Louisiana State/Getty Images/Sports Illustrated
Photo via Louisiana State/Getty Images/Sports Illustrated

Welcome to the best day of the week, at least during the NFL offseason. Sundays take over soon, but Fridays have the No. 1 spot from February to August. And yes, I've put thought into this.

Today's top NFC East links feature the unlucky Cowboys, a big loss in New York, a different kind of loss in Philadelphia and an update on the running back shuffle in Washington.


Dallas Cowboys

From's Gregg Rosenthal: The Cowboys are one of the four unluckiest teams in the league this preseason.

Last year's biggest problem -- the interior offensive line -- remains ravaged by injuries and uncertainty. Wide receiver remains a thin position with the starters still injury-prone. Miles Austin won't play in the preseason and Dez Bryant will likely miss half of it. With the No. 3 receiver spot up for grabs, tight end Jason Witten's role is more important than ever. He's questionable for Week 1 with a lacerated spleen.

I was asked in a radio spot this week if this is an indication the Cowboys are doomed again this season, and I believe the answer is no. Remember: the New York Giants were one of the unluckiest teams last offseason/preseason. The G-men were hit hard by injuries early, but that might have been a blessing in disguise.

Every team is going to suffer their share of injuries. Maybe the Cowboys—like the Giants last year—are getting their injuries out of the way early. Maybe they'll be healthier later and the teams that are healthy now will get hit at the worst possible time. 

You know me—glass half full.


New York Giants

From Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News: The absence of linebacker Michael Boley is leaving a "leadership void" in the Giants defense.

Boley admitted this week he's 'very concerned' about the time he's been missing. The Giants are very concerned, too. 'I can't say enough about what Boley brings to the table,' said fellow linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka. 'He's one of those players who can play above the X's and O's because he's been through the fire, he's been tested, he understands it, he gets it.'

The Chris Canty injury was the big concern until now, but it's beginning to look like there's a chance the Giants won't have the quarterback of their defense when they open the season against the Cowboys on Sept. 5. Having Keith Rivers along with a deep linebacking corps helps, but Boley is tough to replace.


Philadelphia Eagles

From Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer: The Eagles lost a legend Thursday when Hall of Fame running back Steve Van Buren passed away at the age of 91.

"On the field and off, as a player, a leader and a man, Steve Van Buren embodied the finest characteristics of our city and our sport," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. "He was a friend and an inspiration to generations of fans, and the model of what an Eagle should be."

"Wham Bam" still holds the team's single-game rushing yards record (205 in 1949), and he had the single-season touchdown record until LeSean McCoy broke that in 2011. Condolences.


Washington Redskins

From John Keim of the Washington Times: Another Redskins running back is injured, but another is set to return. Evan Royster is out this weekend; Tim Hightower is in.

"I don't feel I've accomplished enough right now," (Royster) said. "I still want to get out there and prove I deserve to be on this team. It's a minor setback but hopefully I'll still get the chance in the fourth game."

Roy Helu continues to be out, and I doubt Tim Hightower will get a ton of work right off the bat, meaning rookie sixth-round pick Alfred Morris has another opportunity to prove that he deserves to be featured in this backfield in 2012.

Saturday's game is a huge one for Morris. And if Royster might be back for the fourth preseason game, it could be a biggie for Hightower, too.