EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Andre Williams did not intend to become the center of attention this week.

He let his play do most of the talking Friday night.

Andre Williams
Bill Kostroun/Associated PressAndre Williams ran for 49 yards and a touchdown in the Giants' victory over the Jets on Friday.
The rookie carried the ball 11 times for 49 yards, including a 33-yard scamper and a one-yard touchdown run, which put the Giants ahead for good in a 35-24 win over the Jets.

In an interview earlier in the week, Williams referred to the Giants as "the real New York team," which led Jets coach Rex Ryan to take a shot at the former Boston College running back in response.

"Last time I saw him he was getting smoked by Clemson," Ryan said.

Jets guard Willie Colon chimed in Thursday regarding Williams, saying, "We'll answer his remarks tomorrow." But Williams had the last laugh, although his touchdown celebration certainly wasn't over the top.

Williams simply placed the ball on the turf, and then raised his left index finger over his facemask.

After the game, Williams was asked if he was shushing himself, or the Jets. He chuckled before answering.

"It was for both I guess," Williams said. "There was a lot of talk going on on the field between players, and I guess I was telling myself that I need to be quiet. I got my moment of peace getting in the end zone."

Williams was clearly surprised, and a little uncomfortable, that his comment ignited a minor firestorm this week.

"The game was about getting better as an offense, coming together as an offense, and winning the game is the goal of every game," Williams said. "It really wasn’t about any of that stuff that was going on earlier in the week."

We probably won't hear Williams say anything remotely controversial in the days and weeks ahead.

But, more importantly, Williams continues to look like a sold complementary back to Rashad Jennings. In four preseason games, he has 33 carries for 151 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and two scores.

As for Ryan, the Jets coach and Williams did have an exchange on the field after the game.

"He just shook my hand and told my I had a great game," Williams said. "I said thank you, and let him know that I do have the utmost respect for him and his team."

Controversy concluded.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' struggling offensive line lost a key piece in the first half of Friday night's preseason game when left guard Geoff Schwartz was carted off the field with a toe injury.

The Giants later announced that Schwartz had a dislocated toe, which is relatively good news considering the other possibilities that seemed to exist when he was carted off in obvious pain. It's unclear how much time he'll have to miss, but a fracture would have been more significant and potentially devastating to an offensive line that's already having a terrible time in pass protection.

Rookie Weston Richburg replaced Schwartz at left guard with the first-team offense and would be the most likely candidate to fill in if Schwartz misses any time.

Also injured in Friday's game for the Giants were defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (lower leg), wide receiver Marcus Harris (shoulder) and cornerback Zack Bowman (triceps). Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul also came out of the game briefly with an apparent knee injury but did return to the field.

We hope to have further updates on all of these injuries for you after the game ends.
ESPN’s player rankings haven’t been kind to the Washington Redskins, but coming off a 3-13 season, that is to be expected. The key now isn’t where they’re ranked this fall, it’s where they are on the list a year from now -- that will be determined by their on-field success.

The Redskins haven’t been represented by many players defensively and I don’t expect that to change. Ryan Kerrigan, at No. 67, is thus far the only Redskins’ defender on the list (ahead of linebackers such as San Francisco’s Ahmad Brooks). It represents a six-spot improvement for Kerrigan, coming off a season in which he started strong but finished slow (in part, perhaps, because of a knee injury that he refuses to say hurt his play).

I think Kerrigan will have a strong year in this system, with more players able to collapse the pocket and force quarterbacks his way. He also will be helped by having two other linebackers around him in their fast nickel package who have similar versatility in Brian Orakpo and Trent Murphy.

Meanwhile, offensively, they have more players on the list starting with running back Alfred Morris at No. 83 (a drop from No. 75 a year ago). I don’t think Morris played worse, but his numbers weren’t as strong because the offense had to throw more to try and erase bigger deficits. Morris remains an effective runner and a powerful weapon in this offense.

Left tackle Trent Williams fell two spots to No. 69 -- and four behind Seattle tackle Russell Okung. Should Williams be higher? Maybe. He did play well last season, but he also was not immune from some of the breakdowns and even had some poor games. But he can do things some tackles just can’t, and if the Redskins’ offense excels it’s easy to see Williams moving up next year. The Redskins' 3-13 record hurt Williams.

Receiver Pierre Garcon went from unranked to debuting at No. 57 after his record-setting season. The question for him will be how much does the additional help at receiver take away from his numbers? Garcon can be more effective after the catch with more space around him -- as he was two years ago. He’s a tough, solid receiver. But with receivers such as DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts and tight end Jordan Reed, it will be tough for any one wideout to dominate the ball. And if there is a big jump on this list next year it will be Reed, provided he stays healthy.

Not sure yet where Jackson is on this list, but there’s no doubt he will be on here. It’s also noteworthy that Robert Griffin III wasn’t among the top 100, barring a shocking turn and him being ranked in the top 50. But it’s not surprising after last year’s events. Again: the key is where he is next August.
FRISCO, Texas -- Before the Dallas Cowboys' brass left for Miami, they updated the media on a few injured players.

  • Team executive vice president Stephen Jones said defensive tackle Henry Melton (groin) will not play in the third preseason game on Saturday night against the Miami Dolphins. Jones said the goal is to get most, if not all of the injured players ready for the regular-season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

  • Middle linebacker Rolando McClain, who left Tuesday's practice with cramping and missed the next day with soreness, is expected to play against the Dolphins.

    "When you sit out for a year, and he didn't really get back into it full bore, until a couple of weeks before camp, so its going to take some time," Jones said.

  • Team officials haven't decided on cornerback Morris Claiborne's status for the Dolphins game as he's still recovering from a shoulder injury.

    Claiborne, a projected starter with Orlando Scandrick suspended the first four games, hasn't played in any preseason games because of health issues.

    Jones said he's not worried about Claiborne's long-term durability given his history of health problems.

    "Not really, I think at the end of the day he's played in a lot of games for us," Jones said. "And I think he'll do well out there, obviously you have to be conservative with your players now. The injury situation not only around here but around the league. We'll let this play out and I think he'll be ready for the 49ers."
  • FRISCO, Texas -- The Cowboys made it official on Friday afternoon as owner Jerry Jones, along with family members and city officials from Frisco, broke ground on a new practice facility that is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.

    Jones, who was joined by several family members and local government officials that included Frisco mayor Maher Maso, grabbed shovels and dug out some dirt on land covering 20 acres that will hold the Cowboys’ corporate headquarters, practice facilities, indoor football stadium, medical and retail shops.

    “Frisco flu, boy we’ve got it,” Jerry Jones said.

    “This project speaks for itself,” Maso said. “It’s everything Frisco. There are a lot of words to describe it.”

    The city and the Cowboys, along with private investors, are combining on the financing. Jones wouldn’t disclose how much the new project will cost but noted the price has gone up two-and-half to three times more.

    “We do know it’s got to be first class,” he said.

    The Cowboys are contractually obligated to hold at least a one week’s worth of training camp practices at their new facility.

    Stephen Jones, the Cowboys’ executive vice president, said the team hasn’t renewed its contract with Oxnard, California officials for the 2015 season. However, once that’s done, the plan is to have camp for at least two weeks in California and then move it to Frisco for the final two-and-a-half weeks starting in 2016.

    “One thing we’ve learned when all these sports pages -- and all this media gets a hold of it -- right in the same paragraph -- almost when you say you haven’t won a Super Bowl in 16 years -- they have to put over and say, ‘But boy do they know how to put a project that equals one and one is three.’,” Jerry Jones said while smiling and admitting he's got the new math figured out. “They know how to do that and Frisco has that, and they will benefit from that and candidly you are.”
    IRVING, Texas -- Three thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys:

    1. If you choose to be positive, there are some scenarios where the Cowboys’ defensive line could be solid instead of a disaster.

    It all starts with defensive tackles Henry Melton (knee, groin) and Terrell McClain (ankle) and defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee) getting healthy. Spencer and Melton can be good players and McClain can be solid.

    Add defensive ends George Selvie, Tyrone Crawford and Jeremy Mincey to the mix, along with rookie DeMarcus Lawrence after he returns from his broken foot, and the Cowboys would be pretty happy with that rotation.

    It will require considerable good fortune to get Spencer and Melton each playing at a high level early this season, but if it happened, the Cowboys would have a pretty good defensive line rotation without much drop off between the starters and backups.

    2. The cornerback situation the first month of the season will be dire.

    Morris Claiborne had a strong start to training camp, but he hasn’t been able to sustain it. Knee and shoulder injuries have limited him since the first week of practice.

    The Cowboys are trying to get him ready for the first game against San Francisco, but we have no idea how long his body will hold up. They can’t trust him to be healthy enough to play, which is a concern since Orlando Scandrick will miss the first month of the season after violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

    Heading into the opener, Brandon Carr is the only proven cornerback on the roster the Cowboys know will be ready for the opener. That's scary.

    3. Receiver Jamar Newsome had a nice game against Baltimore, as did fifth-round pick Devin Street.

    Tim Benford has been on the practice squad each of the last two years, Chris Boyd has good size and potential and LaRon Byrd has been a good special-teams player in the past.

    Street, a fifth-round pick, will make the team, but it’s going to be tough for any of the other receivers to make it. The Cowboys will probably keep five receivers: Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris and Street. One of the other guys will have to be a beast on special teams to make the roster.

    Key number: 20

    The Cowboys had only 20 drives of 10 plays or more last season. Only Miami and the New York Giants had fewer. It was the result of the Cowboys' struggles on third down, which prevented them from sustaining drives, and their inconsistent running game. Too many times the Cowboys were in third-and-long situations that didn’t put them in position to convert.

    They must do better this season to protect their defense and keep them off the field.

    Player to Watch: Tyler Clutts

    Jason Garrett has talked all training camp about establishing a physical presence and how much a true fullback will help the Cowboys do that.

    Clutts has been doing a good job working with DeMarco Murray and taking advantage of his limited opportunities, but to win the job he must prove himself more valuable to the offense than the third receiver or second tight end.

    He needs to be a core player on special teams, and he needs to be a difference-maker on the 12 to 15 crucial goal-line and short-yardage plays the Cowboys will have this season.
    ASHBURN, Va. -- The indecision led to mistakes, which led to criticism and a questionable future. Washington Redskins safety Bacarri Rambo missed too many tackles, starting in the preseason and continuing into the season. He went from a good story -- sixth-round draft pick starting -- to a negative one.

    It’s too early to say he’s completely turned his game around. Two preseason games do not reveal that much -- and no one knows this better than the coaches, who urge caution. But Rambo does look like a different player, one who appears worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster. That is not how he looked at the end of last season.

    [+] EnlargeBacarri Rambo
    Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsRedskins safety Bacarri Rambo has taken some positive steps forward from his rocky rookie season.
    “He’s gotten a hell of a lot better all around,” Redskins corner DeAngelo Hall said. “He’s been probably the best player on our team over the first two preseason games. He graded out great. He made plays we’ve asked him to make. He’s come up and tackled. He’s night and day from last year.”

    Again, a word of caution: There’s a ways to go. Rambo’s on-field communication skills are not where they need to be (more on that in a moment). But there’s no doubt he’s playing more physical, more confident and more decisive.

    In the preseason opener, he fought off a blocker to make a play, taking on a tight end, shedding him and then getting to the ball. Against Cleveland, he sprinted up to the ball carrier, drilled him low and the ball popped free. Rambo said that play was the result of tips he’s picked up from fellow safeties Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather, as well as secondary coach Raheem Morris.

    “It allowed me to make a good tackle and force a fumble,” Rambo said.

    Rambo’s angle was solid: Had he missed the tackle, the ball carrier would have been forced back inside to other defenders. That’s what the Redskins want. If you miss a tackle, at least force the runner back inside where there should be help.

    “He’s starting to understand angles, leverage,” Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “Sometimes [in the past] he’d get too much space between him and the ball carrier. He just has a lot more confidence.”

    Rambo agrees.

    “It’s knowing the scheme, knowing the coverages,” he said, “knowing where my help is at, knowing the depth I’m supposed to be at. I’m still learning, but it’s only going to get better."

    Rambo was not ready to be a starter last season, but the Redskins had injuries at safety and not much depth. So a sixth-round rookie opened camp as the starter. Rambo now admits, “I was kind of nervous. Now I’m not. I’m ready to go.

    “I was thinking too much,” Rambo said of 2013. “I have to just get out there and play and have fun and make everything simple and comfortable for me to play full speed. I was too worried about tackling and taking angles. Now I just find an angle and go. I don’t hesitate.

    “I just have to go out and have fun and don’t worry about it. I start to talking and run around and laughing and enjoying the game. That’s what I wasn’t bringing to the game last year.”

    The separator between Rambo and a player such as Clark is communication. Not to mention Clark has played with a certain toughness for a long time. Rambo must prove he can play a certain way against top quarterbacks -- Tom Brady picked on him a little bit in their dual practices.

    But in practices there’s a difference with Clark on the field. He’s constantly telling the secondary what to look for, what’s coming and where the help is on the field. It’s a lot quieter when Rambo is deep.

    “That’s the part he has to keep working at,” Haslett said. “He has to understand the free safety runs the back end. He’s getting better at it, but he’s not there yet. He’s concentrating on the other issues now. If he gets better at that other stuff, then this will come. It comes with confidence. The ball skills? He has those. He has good range and understands the scheme. It’s just having confidence and going out and doing it.”
    IRVING, Texas -- The third preseason game is the one most like the regular season, but the Dallas Cowboys have not spent a ton of time game-planning for Saturday’s foe, the Miami Dolphins.

    The starters will play more than they did last week against the Baltimore Ravens, but coach Jason Garrett has not revealed the plan for Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray.

    Romo said there is a balance between working on specific things for the regular season and not showing too much to tip your hand before the games count.

    “You want to have success, but you don’t want to necessarily show everything, so there’s a fine line there,” Romo said. “I know through my own experiences that if you struggle as a unit in the preseason, I just don’t think it gets a lot easier. And it’s kind of like camp. If you’re struggling in camp against your defense, usually that’s a sign that you’re going to have to try to come up with different ways. It doesn’t guarantee you success if you have a successful preseason, but it definitely gives you a better chance for it. If you’re struggling consistently every time, then it isn’t usually very conducive to going out in the regular season and getting easier, so that part of it’s there.”

    In two series of work against the Ravens, Romo completed four of five passes for 80 yards and had a touchdown to Bryant. His only incompletion was a drop by James Hanna.

    “I thought we played well against Baltimore against a good defense, and since then we’ve had three or four really good, physical practices here,” Witten said. “Ultimately, you want to play well in that last rehearsal for a lot of us and then build on that going on into the season. We know what our expectations are going into the season, so we need to keep developing that, and that confidence comes by how you play.”
    IRVING, Texas -- When the standard is Jason Witten, it can be difficult to measure up.

    Witten has played through a number of maladies in his 11 seasons, missing just one game as a rookie because of a broken jaw. He returned earlier than many suspected from a ruptured spleen two years ago.

    In last week’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, Witten’s fellow tight end, Gavin Escobar, suffered a shoulder injury after making a 37-yard catch. He practiced some during the week and wants to play Saturday against the Miami Dolphins.

    "You can only contribute if you’re on the field, so that’s what I’ve got to do," said Escobar, who is wearing extra padding to protect the shoulder.

    Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett does not question Escobar’s toughness.

    "He wants to be a good player," Garrett said. "That’s really never been an issue for him. The biggest thing he’s got to do is find himself in those situations where he has to be physically tough where he has to move guys out with run blocks and protect and some of those things. He doesn’t have a lot of experience with that. I do believe he’s getting stronger."

    After catching just nine passes for 134 yards and two scores as a rookie in 2013, Escobar figures to have a much larger role on offense in 2014. He has caught four passes for 84 yards in two preseason games.

    "I think the more touches I get the more it shows what I can do," Escobar said.

    Injuries can happen at any time to any player, and if the Philadelphia Eagles lose running back LeSean McCoy for an extended period their season would look a lot different without last season's league leading rusher.

    After scoring on a 22-yard screen pass in the Eagles’ 31-21 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, McCoy went to the locker room for X-rays on his thumb, which were negative. That was the good news for McCoy, who did not return and should see his next action in the Eagles’ regular-season opener.

    The better news, however, was that the Eagles did not change their plan. They ran the ball with Darren Sproles, one of their bigger offseason acquisitions, and Matthew Tucker in McCoy’s absence. They combined for 48 yards on 10 first-half carries, and Sproles had a 1-yard rushing touchdown. The Eagles finished with 182 yards on the ground.

    Here are some other thoughts on the Eagles’ third preseason game of the year:
    • The Eagles allowed 76 points in their first two preseason games. The defense was much better against Ben Roethlisberger & Co., keeping them off the scoreboard in the first half with the starters on the field. Nolan Carroll had an interception after a Mychal Kendricks pressure. After Nick Foles was intercepted, the defense responded with a three-and-out highlighted by a Malcolm Jenkins' pass breakup. The pressure was better with first-round disappointment Brandon Graham coming up with a sack and surprise first-round pick Marcus Smith coming up with some plays early in the third quarter.
    • Not only did the Eagles appear to avoid a scare with the McCoy injury, it looks like they got some good news on Jeremy Maclin as well. In the second quarter Maclin appeared to hyperextend his right knee while making a cut and went to the ground. He missed last season with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament. Maclin, however, returned in the next series and caught a 9-yard pass. He caught six passes for 43 yards in the first half.
    • Foles had a ridiculous 27-touchdown, two-interception season in 2013. He has been intercepted three times in the preseason, but with tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek he will have the chance to make some easy throws in the middle of the field. The Eagles used the play-action a number of times to get the ball down the seams to his tight end. Celek had two catches for 41 yards and Ertz had two for 24 yards.
    • Philadelphia hopes Mark Sanchez never has to play because Foles is effective and healthy, but the former New York Jets quarterback continued his solid preseason. Sanchez directed two touchdown drives in the third quarter, completing 7 of 9 passes for 85 yards. In the preseason he has completed 25 of 31 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He looks healthy and much more decisive under Chip Kelly’s tutelage.
    • The Eagles close out the preseason Aug. 28 against the New York Jets.

    Redskins uncertain on Bowen's return

    August, 21, 2014
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    ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins still remain uncertain about whether or not defensive end Stephen Bowen will return for the season opener. With a little more than two weeks before that game, Bowen is on the physically unable to perform list.

    Bowen continues to work his way back after having microfracture surgery on his right knee in early December. Bowen still says he’ll be ready for the opener at Houston, but he’s running out of time to make sure those words hold true.

    The coaching staff isn’t quite as certain.

    “That’s hard to say,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Nothing would surprise me with him.”

    The decision, Gruden said, will be up to Bowen and trainer Larry Hess. But if Bowen wants to have a realistic shot at being ready for the opener, Gruden said he would like him to practice as soon as possible after the fourth preseason game to see if he’s ready.

    “Watching him out there today, he looked better,” Gruden said. “He looks better than what I’ve seen him, but how he feels after the workout, with the soreness, does it swell up, how he’s doing with the more workload he gets, how he can handle contact -- that’s to be determined. ... We’ll just have to wait and see.”

    Bowen had his contract reduced last week, taking his cap hit from $7.02 million to $4.69 million this season. He gets a roster bonus of $46,875 for every game he’s active (up to $750,000).

    Tony Romo ready for season

    August, 21, 2014
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    IRVING, Texas – How much Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo plays Saturday against the Miami Dolphins has not been finalized, but Romo feels like he is ready for the regular season.

    Romo saw 16 snaps of action last week against the Baltimore Ravens in his first action since undergoing back surgery in December, completing 4-of-5 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Typically the Cowboys’ starters do not play in the final preseason game, which means this will be Romo’s final action before the Sept. 7 opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

    “You play through a lot of stuff when you’re playing,” Romo said. “Obviously right after the surgery it would’ve been a different story but at this point, yeah there’s no question you’d be playing a football game. I mean I don’t know that you would go to play in the preseason if you didn’t think you could play football. I mean, it’s football.”

    Romo returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out Wednesday as he continued a conservative practice plan through his recovery from surgery.

    “This feels like I’ve got a ton of time compared to last year,” Romo said. “Last year really, sitting out the entire offseason [following his first back surgery], that part of it, I’ve been a part of a lot more even though it might not seem like it to you guys.”

    Romo went through parts of individual drills on Thursday for the first time this summer. Coach Jason Garrett said Romo’s fundamentals have not been an issue.

    “I think you’re always doing that with guys, and you do those every day drills for a reason -- to make sure everybody at every position is handling the fundamentals of the game the right way,” Garrett said. “Tony is no different than anybody else, and like with anybody coming back off of an injury, you want to make sure you’re doing stuff that’s not going to hurt them.

    "He’ll work his way back into getting the full complement as we go, but there are plenty of ways to evaluate that. I think he’s done a really good job technically and fundamentally. His footwork and his ball carriage and getting the ball out have all been really good.”
    In truth, there is very little to tie Eli Manning and Tony Romo together. One was the No. 1 overall pick, the other undrafted. One has won two Super Bowl MVP awards, the other has become the poster child for blowing it in big games. They play in the same division and are about the same age, but their stories are divergent.

    Yet there they sit right next to each other, Romo at No. 61 and Manning at No. 62, on this year’s #NFLRank list (see chart, below right). And when you see it like that, you start to imagine where they’ll be on this list a year from now. It’s easy to realize that this is a pretty big season for both of these guys. For different reasons, each faces the question of whether he’s in decline.

    Romo is 34 years old and has had back surgery twice in the past two years. He’s set up to produce big numbers as the quarterback of a Dallas Cowboys offense loaded with skill position weapons. For the first time in his career, it appears he has enough elite offensive line talent to protect him. Given the sorry state of the Cowboys’ defense, Romo is going to have the opportunity and responsibility to put up a lot of points.

    So the question is whether he can, physically, or whether the back issues will continue to be a part of Romo’s story from here on out. If they are, the rest of the story likely gets a lot shorter and a lot more uncomfortable to watch.

    Cowboys people say they’re happy with the progress Romo has made from this year’s back surgery and that the priority now is to make sure there are no further setbacks. If there aren’t, there’s no reason to think there’s reason for long-term worry with Romo. He’s up one spot from his place in last year’s rankings, which indicates that perception of him as a player hasn’t changed much. He’s set up to succeed on the field as long as he can stay there. For Romo, this season is about proving he’s healthy enough to make the next chapter of his career a substantial one.

    Manning is in a different spot. As consistently healthy a quarterback as the NFL has, Manning had ankle surgery this spring and missed almost no practice time. He’s fully healthy and expecting to play all 16 games, as he has in every season since 2005. The question with Manning is not whether he’ll play, but how he’ll play.

    Manning led the league last season with a career-high 27 interceptions. The Giants’ offense fell apart around him so completely that the organization engaged in a full-scale overhaul, bringing in a new offensive coordinator, installing a new offensive system and making sweeping personnel changes at running back, wide receiver, offensive line and tight end.

    While some pieces (Victor Cruz, Justin Pugh) remain in place around him, the most critical constant is Manning, whose 2013 performance was alarming enough to drop him from No. 17 to No. 62 in these rankings. The question hanging over his tousled head as 2014 dawns is whether he was a victim of a system meltdown or an active creator of the mess. Manning is 33, and the way the league is built to preserve quarterbacks now, as long as he’s healthy, there’s no reason to think he can’t play five or six more years, easily.

    But Manning has no contract beyond 2015, and the fact that the Giants didn’t extend him this offseason, when doing so would have helped them significantly on cap room, indicates that there are questions about his future. They have said, publicly and privately, that they don’t consider Manning to be a quarterback in decline. They believe he has and will continue to take to the new offense and help everyone else with the ease of the transition. He’s eager to put 2013 behind and play better going forward. He acknowledges his role in the mess and is working to make sure he doesn’t repeat it.

    However, another bad year could easily change the narrative here. There’s no doubting Manning’s ability to elevate a team to greatness over a one-month or two-month span, as he has twice, to the chagrin of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. But can Manning be a consistent-enough performer in the regular season to shorten the Giants’ rebuilding phase and return them to annual contender status? Or are his best days behind him?

    The Cowboys and the Giants could be in for rough seasons. Dallas’ defense appears noncompetitive on paper, and the Giants’ offense is a work in progress that might not be ready for the start of the season. It would be a mild surprise if either team contended for the division title, though it’s important to note that the NFC East always surprises to some extent.

    Within that framework, though, Romo and Manning face important seasons from individual standpoints. Regardless of their teams’ final 2014 records, each is going to emerge from this season having addressed a major question about what to expect from the remainder of his career. Five months from now, we’re going to have a lot more information on which to base future expectations for these franchise quarterbacks. Based on the manner in which these players answer these key questions, their teams will either be breathing sighs of relief or addressing huge new questions about the most important position on their rosters.
    ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III didn’t quite understand the penalties and neither did his coach. But Griffin said he’ll try to fix whatever the officials say he’s doing wrong.

    Against Cleveland, Griffin was flagged for two false starts after using a hard count to try and draw the defense offside. Griffin’s shoulders thrust forward a little bit, prompting the flag.

    Griffin and coach Jay Gruden remain baffled.

    “I can yell at you guys and I’ll move a little bit,” Griffin said. “I don’t want to say whether a good call or not. He called it and he threw the flag. For me I have to make sure I’m standing still as a statue, if they’re paying that much attention to it.”

    Gruden said he’s not sure why it would even be a penalty.

    “My point is when you yell, ‘Hut’ real loud your shoulder might move a little forward,” Gruden said. “If the defense doesn’t jump I don’t know why it would be a penalty. It’s just another point of interest. They’re trying to bear down on it for some reason. To me that was a ticky-tack call.

    "If the defense jumped then maybe they talk about it and maybe the quarterback did a sudden movement to bring him across. In a loud stadium in order to annunciate your words sometimes you have to move your chest to yell. That’s what he was doing. You have to make sure there’s no sudden movement with his hands or move his head and shoulders. That to me is a little insane.”
    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- First-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. was on the sidelines for the second consecutive day Wednesday, but fellow wide receivers Corey Washington and Marcus Harris continue to impress.

    Washington and Harris both got some first-team reps and caught practically everything thrown their way. Washington continues to use his height (6-foot-4) to his advantage, hauling in a couple of touchdown passes on fade routes in the back corner of the end zone.

    Washington did have one glaring drop during a two-minute drill at the very end of practice.

    Harris made several catches as well on a day in which the Giants' offense looked crisper than it has for much of the summer.

    Here are a few other observations from Wednesday:
    • Beckham was joined on the sidelines by cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin), cornerback Jayron Hosley (foot), running back Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), wide receiver Trindon Holliday (hamstring), tight end Xavier Grimble (hamstring), offensive lineman Charles Brown (shoulder) and offensive lineman James Brewer (back). None of them are expected to play Friday night against the Jets. Coach Tom Coughlin also revealed that injured safety Cooper Taylor (foot) will be having surgery, and it's possible he'll be placed on injured reserve.
    • The Giants continue to do some shuffling on the offensive line. We saw a new configuration at one point Wednesday, with Justin Pugh shifting from right tackle to left tackle, rookie Weston Richburg at left guard, J.D. Walton at center, Brandon Mosley at right guard and Geoff Schwartz at right tackle. Pugh also got some snaps at left tackle on Tuesday. Schwartz, the presumed starting left guard at the beginning of training camp, played some right guard on Tuesday and moved over to right tackle for the first time on Wednesday. "We just want to mix them around, make sure that guys can be flexible enough to move," Coughlin said. Part of the reason for these shifts is the absence of both Brown and Brewer, who are second and third on the depth chart at left tackle, behind Will Beatty. But the Giants' offensive line alignment is clearly not settled at this point, which is a little worrisome.
    • The Giants' tight ends continue to be underwhelming as a whole, but undrafted free agent Jerome Cunningham made a couple of nice plays Wednesday, earning praise from Coughlin. An undrafted free agent from Southern Connecticut State, Cunningham signed with the Giants just two weeks ago, and has a neat back story. More on him on the Giants blog Thursday.
    • Eli Manning did throw one interception Wednesday, and it was to Jay Bromley, of all people. The 6-foot-3, 306-pound rookie defensive end took a pass to the chest and held on, the latest good play by the third-round pick, who's having a good preseason.
    • In the highly competitive position battle at place-kicker, incumbent Josh Brown took a step back Wednesday, missing a long field goal attempt on the last play of practice -- not the kind of taste you want to leave when you're trying to hold off a strong challenge from the very strong-legged Brandon McManus.