AROUND THE NFC EAST: Saturday night is ‘dress rehearsal’ for entire division

NFC East - Dallas Cowboys 2013 - The Boys Are Back blog

For the purposes of keeping up with the Joneses, the NFC East’s preseason scheduling has been pretty convenient to this point, with division games spread out over several different nights. That ends this weekend, though, as all four teams are set to take the field on the same day.

Washington kicks off against Buffalo at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, with Giants-Jets and Eagles-Jaguars both beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Dallas Cowboys’ home game against Cincinnati wraps it up with a 7 p.m. start. Those times are all central, by the way, for those of you far-flung Dallas Cowboy fans.

We’re going to be a bit busy watching the Cowboys’ starters play their longest exhibition of preseason. But there are still several things happening in the division Saturday night you might want to have an eye on.

NFC East - Washington Redskins 2013 - The Boys Are Back blog

More QB fun in D.C.: RGIII remains on schedule to play the ‘Skins’ season opener, but he remains out. No real news on that front, unless you care what type of T-shirt he wore to pregame warm-ups against Pittsburgh. Backup Kirk Cousins has a foot sprain and could probably play if he really wanted to, but he likely won’t risk it for a preseason game.

That means Rex Grossman is going to be the starter for what almost qualifies as a real NFL game. The former Bear has been pretty ho-hum as the team’s leading passer this season – he’s 20 of 37 for 252 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. That completion percentage is not what you’d like to see from a veteran backup, but it looks like Grossman is the early favorite to win the third QB job from Pat White.

Grossman’s longest completion of the preseason to this point is 23 yards. Let’s hope he bombs away once or twice.

NFC East - Philadelphia Eagles 2013 - The Boys Are Back blog

Vick wants to run more: For a guy who has had trouble staying on the field, running the ball more often seems like a curious strategy for the Eagles’ newly-announced starting quarterback.

Vick has carried the ball 138 times in 23 games the past two seasons — an average of six times per game. But he managed to miss nine games in those two years even with that light of a workload. Eagles coach Chip Kelly had a penchant for getting devastating ground production out of his quarterbacks while at Oregon. But his quarterbacks in college weren’t 33 years old with injury histories.

Is Vick going to be scrambling all over the place, circa 2002, in a dress rehearsal against Jacksonville? That’s pretty doubtful. But it’ll be fun to get a longer look at him in Kelly’s offense. 

NFC East - New York Giants 2013 - The Boys Are Back blog

Pugh is new starter: More and more, we’re seeing how quickly NFL teams expect their top draft picks to jump into the fire. We’ve seen plenty of it here in Dallas, with first-rounder Travis Frederick expected to start at center from the get-go. Several other Cowboy rookies figure to play prominent roles.

Injuries in New York have accelerated that process for Giants’ first round pick Justin Pugh this week. Pugh, who many wanted the Cowboys to select in April’s draft, will start at right tackle against the Jets.

The move comes largely because of the MCL sprain to starting center David Baas in last week’s game against Indianapolis. Starting left guard Kevin Boothe will move to center while Baas rehabs from surgery – he’s hopeful of a return for the season opener against Dallas – and right tackle David Diehl will take Boothe’s guard spot, opening the door for Pugh at right tackle.

It’s also worth noting that Diehl surrendered a sack and a quarterback hurry in his limited action against the Colts. The Giants would undoubtedly like to see if their rookie can improve upon that.

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