- Per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch says he’s recovered completely from a neck injury that derailed his 2019 season: “I’ve been training for three or four months hard. … I feel amazing. I’m just excited to be back on the field.”
- Vander Esch confirmed he will play middle linebacker while Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith plays on the weakside to allow him to blitz more. (Gehlken)
Eagles DC Jim Schwartz said he is excited to have new CB Darius Slay and expects him to play the nickel role.
“When you acquire a player like Slay, who has that skill set, and can match a receiver, it adds a different layer to it,” Schwartz said, via Zach Berman of The Athletic. “So now the guys who play nickel are going to need to be able to play outside corner also because every time Slay lines up at the nickel position, it’s just too easy to tell if the only time he’s in there is man-to-man. So, I don’t know that it’s going to be a 100 percent, all-the-time thing. Maybe it’s a particular game, maybe it’s 50 percent of the games, maybe it’s 75 percent of the games that Slay is matching a particular receiver. But you will see that from our defense.”
Schwartz pointed out that Slay has experience covering other team’s best receivers.
“Slay is a guy that … has done a lot of that in the past, and (shadowing top receivers) won’t be anything new for him, and really excited to have him,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said DB Jalen Mills has shown the qualities of a safety given he can tackle and can do “a little bit more” playing on the interior.
“We’ve seen things from him that match the safety position,” Schwartz said. “He’s tough, he’ll tackle. You know he has range, he has instincts. We like his vision at that position. … I think he checked a lot of boxes for us when it came to making that transition. No. 1, what he’s done in the past and then No. 2, what his skill set is for us right now, we’re really excited about it. Jalen’s a good leader for us. He’s tough, he brings an edge to our defense, and I think you might even see that a little bit more when he’s inside right there at the safety position as opposed to all the way out on the perimeter.”
As for Eagles’ veteran DL Malik Jackson, Schwartz said he could play as an edge rusher and defensive tackle.
“Malik has played some defensive end in the past; he has been a 3-4 defensive end,” Schwartz said. “He’s a really skilled pass rusher. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see that from him last year because he got injured in the first game, but he’s got great use of hands, he’s a really smart player and he’s got great lengths. … And in our past, in my past, we have had guys that have played defensive end and defensive tackle. Malik can do some of those same things for us.”
- NJ.com’s Zack Rosenblatt writes the Giants should look hard at signing CB Logan Ryan given the hits that position has taken this offseason with Deandre Baker‘s legal case and Sam Beal deciding to opt out.
- Rosenblatt notes that while Ryan wouldn’t be cheap, he’d be worth it for $6 million or less and would be familiar with the defensive scheme the Giants run. He can play both nickel and boundary corner.
- Rosenblatt adds some other options for New York could include former Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick, who Giants HC Joe Judge worked with in college at Alabama, veteran CB Morris Claiborne or former Panthers CB Ross Cockrell.
New Washington HC Ron Rivera wasn’t ready to hand out any contract extensions in his first year with the team as he worked on getting to know everyone and figuring out who would be a part of his culture rebuild. For Washington G Brandon Scherff, that means playing out the 2020 season on the franchise tag. Scherff seemed fine with that and willing to open up negotiations with the team again next offseason.
“I’m just glad I get to play another year here,” Scherff said via Kyle Stackpole of the team’s official website. “I said my end goal is to end up as a [Washington Football] player my whole career, and I’m one more year closer to that. I’m just excited for this year.”
“I like his intent, I like his focus, I really like his discipline right now,” said Russ, via Nicki Jhabvala. “He’s approaching it like, ‘I’m going to be back out there and when I am, I’m going to be ready.”