NFC East Roundup: NYG Line, Dallas Minicamp, TO

Around the NFC East: New York continues to tweak it offensive line, Roy Williams comments on the new Roy Williams rule, and, of course, TO is the talk in Philly.

==============

DALLAS COWBOYS

==============

HOT TOPIC

Bill Parcells opened the team's three day minicamp on Friday reiterating the words he made to the Cowboys at the end of the 2004 season.

Parcells told them then that changes were coming and followed through on that promise with alterations to the coaching staff, the scouting department and the roster.

He said he mindset remains the same and that he will show little tolerence for poor effort and poor play.

"I let them know that my mindset about this team has changed," Parcells said. "I think if there was an inattention to results on my part then that would be a foolish thing. Obviously, I looked at the season last year along with (owner) Jerry (Jones) and neither of us were very happy about the result. We didn't sit here and hope things would get better. We tried to do something about it. We are going to continue to try to do something about it."

Thanks to the draft and free agency, the Cowboys will have at least seven new starters, including quarterback Drew Bledsoe, guard Marco Rivera, defensive end Marcus Spears, defensive tacke Jason Ferguson, lineackers Demarcus Ware and Bradie James and cornerback Anthony Henry. The Cowboys could have two more starters at free safety and right tackle.

But Parcells' threat suggests the team may not be done making changes. NOTES

--Safety Roy Williams has mixed feelings about the new Roy Williams rule voted on at the NFL meetings, which banishes the horse collar tackle.

He thinks it's a sign of respect, but he said the league is making it too easy for the offensive players.

He said he will abide by the new rule but won't let it affect his play.

"I'm not gonna worry about how I'm bringing players down," he said. "If I do that then it's gonna take away from my abilities on the field and probably get me yelled at by (defensive coordinator Mike) Zimmer or Bill (Parcells)."

Williams injured three players last season with the horse-collar tackle, a tactic that includes grabbing the ball carrier by the collar of the shoulder pads and dragging him to the ground from behind.

The tackle is now a 15-yard penalty.

--The Cowboys' problems at right tackle are not being helped by Torrin Tucker's uninspired play. Tucker, who started for most of the season last year and was supposed to be one of the candidates vying for the job in 2005, has been overweight for much of the offseason and is now in Bill Parcells' dog house. Ben Noll, who played guard last season, opened at right tackle on the first day of minicamp. Other candidates include Kurt Vollers and Jacob Rogers. Parcells said one of those guys will have to emerge as they will not sign a free agent to fill the spot. STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

--Five players did not participate in the minicamp over the weekend because of injuries, including defensive end Chris Canty (eye), tackle Jacob Rogers (shoulder), guard Tyson Walter (wrist), guard Marco Rivera (back) and linebacker Kevin Burnett (hip).

--Long snapper Jeff Robinson was excused from the minicamp as the Cowboys wanted to take a look at some other snapers. If they like what they see, they might make Robinson and his 2005 salary of $1.1 million a June 1 cap casualty.

--Receiver Terry Glenn, tight end Dan Campbell, cornerback Pete Hunter, linebacker Al Singlton, guard Stephen Peterman, cornerback Bruce Thornton and running back Erik Bickerstaff were all back at full speed for the minicamp after ending the 2004 season on injured reserve.

--The Cowboys signed rookie free agent defensive tackle Chris Van Hoy.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--DT Devone Claybrooks didn't play much. Was signed for depth purposes. But likely will be brought to training camp.

--S Tony Dixon is gone. He disappointed in stint as the starter in place of the injured Darren Woodson. The Cowboys won't bring him back.

--RB Eddie George didn't like the way he was used. The Cowboys didn't like the way he played. Will not be back.

--QB Vinny Testaverde wanted to return, but the signing of Drew Bledsoe means it won't happen.

===============

NEW YORK GIANTS

===============

HOT TOPIC

Among the areas that needed fixing when the 2004 season came to a close was the Giants' offensive line.

To a large extent, it has been fixed, and that doesn't mean just the fact that injured players have regained their football-playing health.

The Giants spent a ton of cash on right tackle Kareem McKenzie from the New York Jets, and the free agent has been plugged into a starting position. He will help to upgrade the line, which is critical in the care and feeding of young quarterback Eli Manning, who will be starting his first full season (second overall) as the Giants' quarterback of the present and future.

There were other areas of discontent, included among them the LT position held down for the last four years by veteran Luke Petitgout. The former first round pick from Notre Dame simply didn't have a good season, and allowed too many drive-stoppers such as false starts and offside penalties, not to mention untimely offside calls.

So the Giants signed veteran free agent Bob Whitfield, a six-time Pro Bowl player, and while they are insisting (in public) that Whitfield is merely a backup for Petitgout, those things have a way of reversing themselves with another bad game or two.

In addition, the return -- however unlikely -- of left guard Rich Seubert is now on the horizon. Seubert, one of the NFL's up-and-coming O-linemen in 2003, suffered a horrific broken leg on Oct. 19, 2003, against the Eagles. It was a spiral compound fracture of his leg, and included fractures of the tibia, tibia and ankle. He missed all of last season and has only recently achieved the kind of condition that will allow him to practice.

"It feels great to be on the field with the guys again," said Seubert, the 6-3, 300-pounder who was an undrafted free-agent rookie out of Western Illinois in 2001. "I can't explain how much I missed this. If it is at all possible I will make the team again. It is all I think about."

A healthy Seubert will solidify the line, whether he starts or serves as a reserve. Along with guards Chris Snee and David Diehl (last year's right tackle) and center Shaun O'Hara and backup Wayne Lucier, the O-line might actually make the transition from terrible to how-about-those-guys, you know? NOTES

--Super-UFA signee Plaxico Burress, the WR from the Pittsburgh Steelers, was named on an arrest warrant by the state of Pennsylvania with regard to overdue and unpaid tax bills. If he returns to the state (hard not to since the Giants play the Eagles there next season), he faces arrest and fines. The team had no official comment but clearly will handle the matter quickly.

--Former Pro Bowl QB Phil Simms, now the lead analyst on the "NFL On CBS" show, was given a multi-year extension of his contract recently. He is the last Giants' QB to be named to the Pro Bowl, and still holds the all-time Super Bowl record for completion percentage (25 of 28) in the team's 39-20 victory over Denver in XXV.



UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--PK Steve Christie is a savvy veteran who helped the Giants last season; but he won't be re-signed.

--OT Ed Ellis was signed as an UFA last spring and spent the season on IR. That didn't help his cause, but it didn't give other teams anything to analyze. He might be retained.

--DE Regan Upshaw was signed in the latter part of the season as an emergency acquisition and then he, too, was injured. He won't return.

--DE Chuck Wiley played for the Vikings against the Giants last season, was cut two weeks later and played for the Giants until getting hurt. It is unlikely that he'll be back.

===================

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

===================

HOT TOPIC

While Terrell Owens isn't expected to show up for the Eagles' two-week June passing camp and might even sit out training camp to protest the Eagles' refusal to renegotiate his contract, few people believe he would actually take a rain check on the season.

But in the case of the 31-year-old wide receiver, the Eagles aren't discounting that possibility.

"Normally, I'd say a player is not likely to just pass up getting paid," club president Joe Banner said. "But in this case, you really can't say. This isn't a very predictable situation."

Banner, owner Jeff Lurie and head coach Andy Reid all have publicly said the team will not, under any circumstances, redo Owens' one-year-old deal, which included nearly $10 million in bonuses last season.

Any willingness to compromise ended the minute Owens' new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, decided to go public with his renegotiation campaign rather than try to work it out privately with Banner, the club's chief contract negotiator. The Eagles don't like to be pressured, even if it is by a five-time Pro Bowler.

"I'm baffled in that it doesn't seem like there's a good plan (on Owens' side)," Banner said. "And to have done this so publicly, he really put himself in a box. If you come in and make a private request like this, and the team responds, then you proceed without there being a problem and nobody gets backed into a corner.

"But once you go public with it, the way they did, it creates a problem for them. We have to stick to our policies and to what we think is right and fair. Any team opening that Pandora's box in such a big, visible case is really creating problems that they'll not be able to get out of." NOTES

--Rookie wide receiver Reggie Brown won a Pepsi vending machine and a year's worth of supplies for it at a recent skills competition for NFL rookies that was sponsored by Reebok. He didn't win it for anything he did in the skills competition though. The rookies were asked to do a skit about why they would be this year's rookie of the year. Brown imitated Rev. Jesse Jackson pitching Brown for rookie of the year.

--Rookie running back Ryan Moats on learning the Eagles' complicated offense: "I feel like I'm in school again. But that's OK. This is something I love. I stayed up until one in the morning reading it the other day. Some guys had (the playbook) sent to their house after the draft so they could get ahead."


Breaking Burgundy Top Stories