NFC East Roundup: Hasselbeck NYG Answer?

The New York Giants claimed Tim Hasselbeck on waivers from Washington, but if he's the answer one has to wonder what the question is. Also, a look at TO and Dallas and at Jerry Jones' patience meter.

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DALLAS COWBOYS
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INSIDE SLANT

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not ready to predict a playoff trip and a possible Super Bowl run.

He has learned his lesson on that from past transgressions.

But it's safe to say Jones is very optimistic about the Cowboys' chances in 2005.

He believes in coach Bill Parcells more than ever.

And his belief that Parcells can make the Cowboys bona fide contenders this season, despite last season's 6-10 mark, is backed up by his actions in free agency and the draft.

Jones and Parcells went into the offseason with a win-now philosophy.

That was most evident in free agency, upgrading their talent base six veterans in quarterback Drew Bledsoe, defensive tackle Jason Ferguson, cornerback Anthony Henry, offensive guard Marco Rivera, cornerback Aaron Glenn and running back Anthony Thomas.

Add in what they did in the draft -- namely the first round additions of linebacker Demarcus Ware and defensive end Marcus Spears -- and the Cowboys are a much better team on paper than they were at the end of last season.

Jones knows as much.

Although he might not be saying it, he expects nothing less than a run to the playoffs.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Cowboys conducted a three-day quarterback school last week for the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs. The session was geared toward helping quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe, Drew Henson and Tony Romo get acclimated with the offense and their receiver.

The Cowboys' next mandatory on-field workouts for the entire squad will be the May 27-29 minicamp out at The Ranch. They also will have a four-day on-field teaching session following Memorial Day.

--The Cowboys announced the hiring of three scouts.

Mike Murphy was named national college scout, Sam Garza is the new pro scout and Mitch LaPoint will scout the western region of the country.

Murphy, 41, previously scouted the Midwest region for the Seattle Seahawks from 2000-2004. LaPoint, 29, spent the previous six years in the college scouting department of the Kansas City Chiefs. Garza, 39, was the running backs and quarterbacks coach for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL in 2004. Garza, a Harlingen native, coached the quarterbacks at Texas-El Paso from 2000-2003 and was a former quarterback at the school from 1983-86.

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NEW YORK GIANTS
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INSIDE SLANT

The Giants were awarded veteran quarterback Tim Hasselbeck on waivers after he was released by the Washington Redskins, and now they are extolling his value and assets.

Huh?

Here's a guy who was on a team deep in quarterback trouble last year. Here's a guy who watched as the over-the-hill Mark Brunell and then raised again Patrick Ramsey tried to fend off the onrushing hordes -- without much success.

Hasselbeck, brother of Seattle's Matt and son of a former Giant tight end, Don, didn't get a single snap. In all that chaos, in all that ineffective quarterbacking, he didn't get a single snap.

And then he was released shortly after the Redskins drafted a quarterback in the first round (25th overall) named Jason Campbell.

There wasn't exactly a gold rush-like charge to get in line for Hasselbeck, and he didn't go to the first few teams in the inverse order of last year's finish that makes up the waiver priority system.

But there he was on the Giants' practice field, joining starter Eli Manning and backups Jesse Palmer and Jared Lorenzen.

The reason for the claiming and signing of Hasselbeck was obvious from looking at that group -- the veteran Jim Miller, who was signed in March, wasn't there. He suffered torn cartilage in his hip while practicing, sending the 34-year-old to the operating table.

He might be ready at the end of August. He might not be ready at all. It wasn't something head coach Tom Coughlin wanted to gamble on, so he took Hasselbeck. There is some motivation, since the kid played at Boston College and that's where Coughlin served in his only collegiate head coaching gig. Brother Matt played for T.C. in Jacksonville. It was almost a bloodline.

The irony is the Giants heavily recruited another former B.C. quarterback, Doug Flutie, who nodded his head and nodded his head and then at the last minute opted to sign with the "hometown" New England Patriots.

Well, you can't say they didn't get a B.C. quarterback, you know?

NOTES, QUOTES

-- The Giants are closely monitoring the progress of WR Michael Jennings, currently playing for the Berlin Thunder of the NFL-Europe league. Jennings was signed as a free agent although he never played college football, and he is currently burning up the NFL Europe league.

Through six games, Jennings has 845 total combined yards (416 receiving, 410 on KO returns and 19 rushing), enough to lead the NFL-E.

Jennings is 5-feet-11 and 170 pounds, hardly what you'd consider NFL material. But he has intrigued other teams besides the Giants. He was originally signed by the San Francisco 49ers, then the New England Patriots, then the Atlanta Falcons, and the Giants signed him last Nov. 30.

Jennings attended Florida State but never played football there. Rather, he competed in track and field, earning all-ACC honors in the 200- and 400-meters.

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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
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INSIDE SLANT

If you were wondering whether the Eagles might eventually give in to wide receiver Terrell Owens' demand for a new contract, wonder no more. They won't.

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said the team will not, under any circumstances, renegotiate Owens' one-year-old deal, even if the five-time Pro Bowler threatens to sit out the season.

"It's not even an issue," Lurie said. "It's a non-issue. There are a lot of things I spend time thinking about, but that's not one of them."

Owens signed a seven-year, $49 million deal with the Eagles last year that earned him more than $9 million last season and will pay him another $3.25 million this season. But after a season in which he caught a club-record 14 touchdown passes and returned from ankle surgery to catch nine passes for 122 yards in the Eagles' three-point Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, he fired longtime agent David Joseph, hired Drew Rosenhaus and informed the Eagles he wanted his deal redone.

Rosenhaus said Owens already had "outperformed" his contract. Owens suggested he was "strong-armed" into signing the deal, which made him the league's third highest-paid wideout, behind only Randy Moss and Marvin Harrison. Owens was a no-show at the club's mandatory late-April minicamp and isn't expected to be at training camp. Full-squad workouts begin at Lehigh University on Aug. 1.

Asked if he expects Owens to play for the Eagles this season, Lurie said: "If he wants to win a Super Bowl, he sure should be. At this level, with multimillions (of dollars), you're just trying to leave a legacy and win Super Bowls, as far as I'm concerned. And he's got a great opportunity."

The Eagles have won four straight NFC East titles and have made it to the NFC Championship Game four straight times. They made it to the Super Bowl last season without Owens, who missed the first two playoff games against Minnesota and Atlanta before returning against the Patriots.

Lurie blamed Owens for allowing Rosenhaus to give him "self-destructive advice."

"It's a shame," he said. "Every player is both fragile and talented. Unfortunately, we're seeing around the league certain agents who take advantage of the fragility of the players, and are less worried about their continued success and stability than acting self-destructively. It's too bad."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Wide receiver Freddie Mitchell finally got his wish. The team released him. Mitchell, the club's No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft, became the first Eagles first-rounder in 11 years to be given his outright release. The last one: '93 No. 1 pick Leonard Renfro, who was cut loose just a year after the club drafted him. Mitchell's release won't have much impact on the Eagles' salary cap. He had just one year left on the deal he signed as a rookie and was scheduled to earn $534,000. The club will take just a $333,750 cap hit.

--The NFL and the NFL Players Association slapped the Eagles on the wrist this week for violating rules regarding offseason workouts. They were found guilty of violating rules pertaining to the "scheduling of on-field activities." As a result, the Eagles will forfeit one week of their voluntary offseason workout program beginning May 16. The club cannot reschedule the cancelled week. Eagles players will resume offseason workouts on May 23. Said coach Andy Reid: "We take a lot of pride in doing things the right way here. We didn't intentionally break any rules and we will get this matter resolved right away."


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