NFC Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Washington


Mike Fisher of reports that recent offseason acquisition Keanu Neal will be playing the “WILL” and dime linebacker positions for the Cowboys. Dallas HC Mike McCarthy had a ton of praise for Neal and his transition to a new role.

He’s a stud. He’s a stud of a player. … I think football comes extremely natural to him. He’s making the full-time conversion into the linebacker room. He looks very comfortable,” he said.

Neal, a safety-turned-linebacker, is reunited with former HC Dan Quinn, who will be serving as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator for the 2021 season.

He’s awesome man,” Neal says of Quinn. “It really brightens me up thinking about it.”

  • Fisher notes the initial plan is for LB Leighton Vander Esch to start at the “WILL” backer position, with first-round LB Micah Parsons at the “MIKE” and veteran LB Jaylon Smith at a “variety” of positions.
  • Fisher also mentioned Smith rarely came off the field during first-team reps. 


  • Giants first-round WR Kadarius Toney has been a no-show thus far at Giants OTA’s, reports Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.
  • Schwartz also notes RB Saquon Barkley is on track in his rehabilitation and expects to be ready for the start of the regular season, despite only taking mental reps during OTA’s.
  • Schwartz reported there was a concerted effort by the Giants to add speed to the roster this offseason, including the additions of Toney, WR John Ross and CB Adoree’ Jackson


Washington QB Ryan Fitzpatrick believes all of their receivers are “a little bit different” and wants to get on the same page with them this offseason. 

“Everybody is a little bit different in terms of the way receivers run routes and expect the ball and in the way that quarterbacks are throwing balls, and so for me, at least at this point, I’m going to put it in the spot where I think it needs to be,” Fitzpatrick said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. “That’s going to result early on in some incompletions, and then we can sit and talk about expectations and why I threw it where I did.”

Fitzpatrick reiterated that offseason workouts are a good time for players to get accustomed to each other. 

“I think these workouts in the offseason, especially being on a new team, I think they’re really important for guys to get around each other,” Fitzpatrick said. “Even if it’s thrown [against] air and [we’re] taking some reps off [and] not necessarily always being in the most competitive situation, just getting into a huddle, just looking guys in the eye, being able to call and spit out the play and spit it out with some confidence, those little things are important.”

Fitzpatrick mentioned that he’s been working closely with Washington OC Scott Turner in practice. 

“Standing next to him during practice and talking, whether it’s my plays or somebody else’s and the thought process that goes into it, just hearing his voice coming through the helmet and maybe just talking to him about, ‘Hey, here, I would love a reminder on this,’ or, ‘On this one, don’t say anything but the play,’ and just working on that rapport,” Fitzpatrick said.

  • Washington CB Bobby McCain‘s one-year contract includes a $995,000 base salary, a $225,000 signing bonus, and $450,000 in total guarantees. (Matthew Paras)
  • Washington is giving reps to S Troy Apke at cornerback as they look to find a spot for him in the secondary. (Ben Standig)
  • Washington TE Sammis Reyes is a major developmental project but he looks the part and flashed his athleticism on one nice catch from Fitzpatrick: “We have not had a ton of time to talk or to do a lot of work on the field with him, but he is definitely a guy that you see and take note of. There are not a whole lot of human beings on earth that look like that.”

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