NFC Notes: Cowboys, Eagles, Giants

Cowboys

Cowboys ST coach John Fassel mentioned that Bryan Anger is the leader for the team’s punting job this season. Hunter Niswander is competing with Anger for punting duties this upcoming season. 

Hunter’s not here because he has a high-risk pregnancy,” Fassel explained, via CowboysWire.So we respect his wanting to be real smart with the COVID. Bryan’s been the only punter that’s been here. Going into camp, I think it’d be fair to say for sure that Bryan is the leader and Hunter is continuing to develop as a punter. I thought Hunter did a really good job stepping in last year off the street. But I’ve talked to Hunter about his developmental process and some of the things that he continues to work on as a punter. But I think Bryan is a top-flight guy, and I expect him to be that. And we’ll see what happens.”

Anger, a former third-round pick by Jacksonville in 2012, has familiarity with current Cowboys ST coach John Fassel.

I remember when Bryan came out as a rookie in 2012,” Fassel told reporters last week. “I kind of went on a workout circuit, working out a whole bunch of potential rookie kickers and punters. I worked out Johnny Hekker, and then two days later, I flew down to Southern California and worked out Anger. Then a few days later, I flew to Wisconsin and worked out a punter, and then a few days after that, I worked out Greg Zuerlein at Missouri Western.”

Eagles

Last season was supposed to be the year Eagles LT Andre Dillard stepped forward as the next franchise stalwart on the blindside. Instead, a torn biceps injury in training camp wiped out his entire second season and gave OT Jordan Mailata an opening.

Now Dillard is in a competition for the starting job with the former seventh-round pick and converted rugby player. However, the way Dillard carried himself during his rehab has given Eagles OL coach Jeff Stoutland confidence he can answer the doubts about his strength and mental makeup that have emerged during his rocky first two seasons in the league. 

Andre Dillard was in every single position meeting. Andre Dillard sat in front of the room with a notebook and took notes on every single thing I said,” Stoutland said via the Athletic’s Zach Berman. “And so, I would hit him with questions during the meeting, game-planning questions. And I said, ‘Andre if you’re going to be here, then I’m going to make it like you’re playing. Let’s play with our magical friend, let’s pretend that you’re going to go play in the game, and then maybe we won’t develop the rust and the barnacles and all that. … I think that’s how it really started with him because I do see a hungrier guy. I see a guy who is more serious.”

Meanwhile, Mailata legitimately took a major step forward when pressed into the starting lineup last season and based on his play on the field might be the favorite to win the starting job. He’s still approaching things with the mentality of a fringe roster guy, however. 

“I’m not really interested in, ‘Based on my play last year, have I earned it?’” Mailata said. “It’s about who’s the best man for the job. If that’s being me or Dillard, so be it.”

Stoutland says whichever player integrates best with the rest of the starting offensive line will likely get the spot. 

“I expect that player to fit right in with the rest of those players, be accountable to all the things that are going on. Because when you watch the synchronization, you watch how synchronized the group is, I want that player to be just like that,“ Stoutland said.

Giants

Giants OT Nate Solder mentioned he is happy to be back to playing football after opting out in 2020.

“I’m just thankful they gave me the opportunity to come back,” Solder said, via Giants.com. “There’s no guarantees with that. And the other thing was just excitement. I was excited to come back, I was ready to come back and those were the determining factors. Sitting down with my wife (Lexi) and making the decision and all that stuff was a group decision between me and her.”

“My mindset was if I can be somewhere where I’m fulfilling my purpose, where I can be around guys that have the same set of values and goals and myself, it’s a real honor and it’s a privilege to be part of the NFL. I would say I missed the excitement and fun of being a part of it, so I’m fortunate to be in this position.”

Solder also said he doesn’t care if he starts or is a backup.

“One of the great things about coming back is just the opportunity to work with a group of guys,” Solder said. “Who cares who starts? I just want to be a part of an excellent group that’s getting better every day that plays at a really high level. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some great O-lines, and nobody cares who is starting and who is not starting, because we’re all part of the team and we’re all necessary and we’re all needed. So, if I can encourage, protect, guide, lead and compete, whatever it takes, I’m here to do it.”

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