Players To Watch In NFL Training Camp: NFC East
The Father chooses one player from each team to keep an eye this summer
Training camps will be opening up later this month, and roster battles will begin, new players will find a role, injured players will seek a return to form, old players will try to show they still have it, and young players will try to show they have improved. Every team has their own storylines and players to watch, and I am going to take a little time over the next couple weeks to highlight some of these players. I will pick one player from each team to highlight to keep an eye on in training camp. If they can fulfill their destiny, they can make a big difference in what happens with their team this year.
We now move on to the NFC East.
Washington Football Team: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick comes over the WFT following a strong two seasons with the Dolphins where Fitzy reinvigorated his career late in the proceedings as a top 15 QB by the metrics. He comes to a team that had a black hole under center last year with the best option being Taylor Heinicke, who flashed some potential late in the year. Fitzpatrick has been significantly better than any of last years options of late, however, and he is going to be working with a lot of talent. Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson, and Logan Thomas are all strong players at their position. If Fitzy can rally the troops to put together even just a solid campaign, their defense should have them in position for playoff berth. Keep an eye on the connection Fitzy has with his new teammates in camp. If he can move the ball on their defense, there are good things to come. Also, Fitzy is just a lot of fun!
Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith
I am confident in two things with the Cowboys. Their defense will still be bad. Their offense will be good… IF Tyron Smith is healthy and ready to go. Dak Prescott appears on track to return at the start of the season, and he is certainly important to the Cowboys success. However, without Smith, even Prescott looks normal. The Cowboys are just 11-12 without Smith since 2017. Smith, Lael Collins, and Zach Martin are the three cogs that keep the Cowboys offensive line a top 3 unit in the NFL every season. Ezekiel Elliot has run like a superstar behind this group. Prescott has had plenty of time to wait for stars like Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb to get open. Smith is coming off of a major back injury, which is a serious concern for any player, let alone a lineman who must exert physically on every play. He needs to stay healthy, and a clean camp where he looks like his usual self will set the stage for the rest of their offense to thrive.
New York Giants: Daniel Jones
Let’s not pretend like it is someone else. Sure Evan Engram is an annual candidate to break out (but doesn’t). New addition Kenny Golladay is under pressure to deliver. Saquon Barkley is desperately trying to make it through a year in one piece. The defense is underrated and full of solid pieces. This all comes down to Jones though. This is the make or break season for Jones. This is the year when they will decide on his fifth year option, and, unless something changes, it won’t be getting picked up. Jones has shown flashes both in the air and on the ground at times. He just can’t stop making mistakes however. He has 39 turnovers in 26 games so far. That is wildly unacceptable. If he can get his combined turnovers under 12 for this season, it would greatly improve the Giants outlook. It would help if his offensive line (that allowed 45 sacks last year) could step up as well. Keep an eye on those turnovers in the preseason. If he can’t stop the bleeding, he will be replaced by someone who can (in the next offseason).
Philadelphia Eagles: Nick Sirianni
OK, this is a little of a cheat. At last check, Sirianni is a coach, not a player. I cannot think of a coach with more to prove this preseason though. His opening press conference was an abject disaster. He decided to evaluate potential draft picks by playing rock-paper-scissors with them. He insists the only plausible starting QB on the roster is not the starter yet. While it may, or may not, have been intentional, he has come off as a total meathead up until this camp. This might not be true at all. His previous head coach believes he will do a great job (that previous coach is Frank Reich, the offensive coordinator of the Eagles Super Bowl winning squad). I am concerned, however. I am worried about his ability to make a strong offense out of a limited passer in Jalen Hurts, a bad offensive line, poor wide receivers, probably not Zach Ertz at tight end, and a 3rd down back in Miles Sanders. We will be watching in camp and preseason to see if this team can move the ball at all or not. We haven’t even talked about the defense yet either, which also needs a lot of help. This feels like the opening scene of a plane disaster movie when we meet the incompetent pilot with a drinking problem.