NFC East: Top remaining question

Last year, the Redskins took advantage of a weak NFC East. This year, the foursome in the division again have some glaring weaknesses.

The NFC East teams plain don't like other, but the sites that cover the Dallas CowboysNew York GiantsPhiladelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins get along just fine. Well, at least enough to put together weekly thoughts on the divisional hot topics. With the regular season just weeks away, we wanted to get a sense of the top question remaining for each team in the division. Eventually, all teams will need to address weaknesses, but for now, let's go with that classic rivalry ....

Dallas Cowboys

For the Dallas Cowboys, that’s an easy one — defensive end. As you’re probably aware, two players will miss at least the first four games due to suspensions — Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence. Gregory is in rehab, so he isn’t even in camp and the expectation is that he could face a longer suspension. So the Cowboys are trying to find the right combination of ends to help improve one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL last season. That hasn’t been easy. Benson Mayowa has missed two preseason games with a knee injury but is back at practice this week and hopes to play against Seattle. Fourth-round pick Charles Tapper has been taking it easy with a back injury. A bright spot, Shepherd rookie Shaneil Jenkins, has two preseason sacks but is nursing a minor hamstring injury. Right now, the projected starters at end are a pair of relatively untested second-year players in David Irving (undrafted last year) and Ryan Russell (a fifth-round pick last year). The only other lineman with a sack is Tyrone Crawford, who can play end, but he is the starter at under tackle and the Cowboys would rather keep him there. Crawford, along with Cedric Thornton and Jack Crawford, should stabilize the interior line. But the edge? It has the potential to be a real mess unless things shape up soon. Track how much pressure the Cowboys are able to get on Russell Wilson and company in preseason game No. 3.

-- Matthew Postins

Washington Redskins

Many would say the Burgundy and Gold are more talented from a season ago under general manager Scot McCloughan, especially on the offensive side of the ball. But there are still glaring concerns that could prevent them from repeating as division champs. One is the lack of experience at the running back position. That became a lot more apparent with Matt Jones getting shut down for the remainder of the preseason with a shoulder sprain. However, there was already little doubt that Washington is going to throw the ball around 30 times per game because of its superior receiving group. As a result, the team's biggest worry continues to be the players whom surround defensive end Chris Baker on the D-line. At 33 years of age, Kedric Golston is no where close to the force Washington needs at the nose tackle position, although they do have an "interesting" see-saw of average talents who can line up at right defensive end. A year removed from having a horrendous run defense, one could argue Washington has lost even more ground, which would make the addition of cornerback Josh Norman irrelevant. The Redskins must hope rookie defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis develops quickly. Otherwise, they will have to constantly load the box to avoid getting run over.

-- Neil Dalal

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Additional NFC East Discussions

Camp stars and breakout players

Best quarterback in division

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