New York Giants
The mass, viewing and funeral of Giants patriarch Wellington T. Mara, who died Tuesday, occupied most of the team's thoughts and accounted for most of its plans Thursday.
Mara will be buried from the historic St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Friday morning, after which nothing will resume as normal. But the team will be able to begin focusing on Sunday's game at home against the Washington Redskins.
"Mr. Mara seemed to have a tremendous capacity for saying and doing the right thing at the right time," coach Tom Coughlin said. "When I was first hired (Jan. 7, 2003), he would literally come by my office every day, and if he missed a day he would come by to tell me, 'Coach, I haven't forgotten you. I was busy for a day or two and I didn't get down here.' He would come by on his walk and just see how I was doing and how we were doing and if there was anything more he could do.
"But we have to find a way to focus on the job at hand," Coughlin said, "knowing full well that is what he would want; this is what he would want us to do."
The Giants players will wear patches on their left shoulders for the remainder of the season, a white oval patch with a black border and the initials "W.T.M." in black.
The flags at Giants Stadium have been flying at half-staff since Mara's death at the age of 89, and will continue to do so through Sunday's game.
--WLB Barrett Green, signed last season as a free agent from the Detroit Lions, has been placed on injured reserve and thus is gone for the season. Last year he managed to play in only 10 games before landing on IR, and this season he saw limited action in only one game, the fourth of the schedule. He had been inactive the other games. His injuries involve both a knee and an ankle, and last week he shared with media the news that he might have to undergo yet another surgical procedure.
--SLB Carlos Emmons, who suffered a shoulder injury last Sunday against Denver, went through an MRI exam Wednesday and was shown to have a partial tear of the right pectoral muscle. He is listed as questionable for Sunday. In his absence the Giants will start second-year player Reggie Torbor.
--PK Jay Feely is one of only three placekickers in the NFL with perfect field goal scores so far. He has made 11 of 11. Arizona's Neil Rackers is 20 for 20 and Atlanta's Todd Peterson is 10 for 10. Feely was replaced by Peterson in Atlanta this season, and Peterson is a former Giants draft choice.
--LG Rich Seubert, who missed a season and a half with a horrific leg fracture in October of 2003, is now on the roster but hasn't yet played. Is he anxious to play? "No, not really," he said, "because that would mean somebody got hurt, and all these guys are my friends. The O-line is special, we are a very tightly-knit group whether we play or not."
--SS Shaun Williams, who doesn't even start, has as many interceptions this season as all the Redskins put together - two. Washington has only a pick from FS Sean Taylor and SLB Marcus Washington. The Giants have nine.
The Cowboys offense has been very conservative the past couple of weeks because of pass protection concerns.
Often the Cowboys are running two-man pass routes, keeping a couple of their main weapons in as blockers in maximum protection schemes.
Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten and Throw-me-the-damn-ball receiver Keyshawn Johnson have spent an increasing amount of time blocking lately. Both are having to help tackles Rob Petitti and Torrin Tucker, who replaced the injured Flozell Adams at left tackle.
"If we pass it 25 times, usually I'm going out on 22 (pass) routes," Witten said of the offense with Adams at LT. "Now, if we're trying 25 passes, it's 12 or 15. It's a different role for me. Now you are protecting and helping block. It's another body on those guys. It's not always a double team. It's 'Chip this guy, watch this guy and then get out (into a pattern).'"
Coach Bill Parcells says he is doing what he has to do protect quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
Bledsoe, however, has been lobbying Parcells to open the offense back up. Assistant head coach/passing game coordinator Sean Payton, who also calls the plays, has also been in Parcells' ear about opening the offense.
Conservative play-calling was certainly a big factor in the loss to the Seahawks last Sunday.
Petitti had arguably his worst game of the season, giving up two sacks and two pressures and getting called for holding. Even though Tucker was solid, the play-calling was altered.
"Torrin did a nice job, but it may have changed our approach because when Flo was out there, we never worried about him," Bledsoe said.
--QB Drew Bledsoe has been a part of five fumbled snaps in seven games. Without assessing blame, coach Bill Parcells noted that center Al Johnson didn't have any fumble problems last year with Vinny Testaverde and Bledsoe is the only part of the equation that has changed.
"It's something that's completely unacceptable," Bledsoe said. "And it's something that can't be a problem for us going forward from here. It's simply something that can't happen anymore."
--G Ben Noll has been getting reps at right tackle, partly for depth purposes and partly because of the struggles of rookie right tackle Rob Petitti.
--T Ethan Brooks, signed last week for depth purposes following the injury to Flozell Adams, has been practicing at left and right tackle.
--K Shaun Suisham has a different presence in the locker room now that he is on the active roster rather than being a member of the practice squad.
"I feel very comfortable," Suisham said. "It feels like I belong here."
Cowboys coach Bill Parcells just needs to start getting his name right. He called him "Scott" on Monday after naming him the replacement for the released Jose Cortez.
Suisham, a rookie from Bowling Green, carried a 68 percent (45-of-66) career field-goal percentage in college, with a long of 52 yards. He went to training camp with the Steelers before being released and joining the Cowboys practice squad at the start of the season. "We've been looking at this player for quite awhile," Parcells said. "We kind of liked what we saw."
--RB Julius Jones (ankle) doesn't appear closer to playing than last week. He has missed the last two games. With a bye next week, the Cowboys could hold him out until a Nov. 14 matchup at Philadelphia.
--LB Dat Nguyen appears ready to go after missing the last three games with a stinger. Nguyen has been practiced without incident and has been removed from the injury report.
The Eagles will go to Denver on Sunday for an important interconference battle with the Broncos with a new placekicker after releasing Todd France and claiming Jose Cortez off waivers earlier this week.
Cortez was released by the Dallas Cowboys after missing a 29-yard field goal in the Cowboys' three-point loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
"The change in kickers is part of the process to try and make us as strong as we can be on Sunday," special teams coordinator John Harbaugh said.
While France made 6 of 7 attempts since replacing injured David Akers, the Eagles feel Cortez will give them consistently deeper kickoffs.
"Kickoffs were a big part of it," Harbaugh said. "Not to say that Todd didn't do a good job with kickoffs. But Jose is a proven kickoff guy. He pounds kickoffs."
The Eagles are hopeful that Akers, who has missed the last three games with a torn hamstring, might return as soon as next week. Even when he returns, though, there's a good possibility Cortez will remain on the roster to handle kickoffs.
"I don't know whether David is going to be able to kick off when he returns," Harbaugh said. "But it sure gives us an option to have the best possible kickoff situation that we can have down the road."
--PK David Akers will miss at least one more game with a torn hamstring. Jose Cortez will handle the kicking chores for the Eagles Sunday against Denver.
--CB Lito Sheppard was added to the Eagles' injury list Thursday. He is listed as questionable for Sunday's game with a knee injury and didn't practice Thursday.
--CB Rod Hood could get his first start of the year Sunday against the Broncos if Lito Sheppard is unable to play. Sheppard is listed as questionable with a knee injury. Hood is the Eagles' No. 3 corner.
--RB Ryan Moats took some kickoff return reps Thursday, but it's uncertain whether he'll handle the job Sunday. Moats suffered a concussion in last week's game after being inactive for the first five games. He fumbled both of his return attempts.
--QB Donovan McNabb insists that his sports hernia injury has not had any effect on his throwing accuracy.