NFC Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Washington


Cowboys’ LB Leighton Vander Esch doesn’t feel any additional motivation about being in a contract year, even though his injuries have certainly held him back in Dallas.

“I’ve always been motivated,” Vander Esch said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I didn’t have to use that to be motivated to play better or work harder. I’ve been on a mission since the season was over because we just can’t have a season like we did last season. And it’s coming this year. I’m just controlling what I can control, and the rest will take care of itself.”

Vander Esch is set to make $2.1 million this season and despite the possibility he could become a free agent, Cowboys’ VP Stephen Jones said the team hopes “to keep Leighton around here for the next four or five years.”

Vander Esch said he had a “great conversation” with Jones when the Cowboys declined his fifth-year option. He also spoke about moving back to outside linebacker after previously playing in the middle.

“I’ve got nothing but respect for the Joneses. They’re the ones that took a chance on me to begin with,” Vander Esch said. “So I mean, I trust in their plan, and I think we have a great thing going. Our relationship is amazing. As I said, I’m just controlling what I can control. I’ve got no control over the logistics of who pays who what. It is what it is. I’m going back to pretty much my old role from the first two years, which I think is what it should have been last year. But I think it’s going to be a lot more familiar to what we were used to running, which is running and hitting and making plays and having fun.”

  • Cowboys LB Micah Parsons spoke about learning the playbook, as well as learning to play both inside and out in Dallas’ defense: “I would still say I’m like 50-50 right now. I’ve got a base, and I’m just building off (that). There are a lot more checks and a lot more play calls here than I had before.” (Michael Gehlken)
  • Cowboys’ DL Brent Urban says he is quite content “doing the dirty work” against the run this season: “That’s part of the reason I came here. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to continue to do that and help elevate this defense and allow the athletes to be athletes.” (Gehlken)


Giants’ TE Evan Engram is entering the final year of his contract but doesn’t feel any added pressure on his shoulders for the upcoming season.

“Honestly, my motivation is in the moment right now,” Engram said, via Michael Eisen of “All that stuff is in the future. I have no control over that. I have control of what I do today on the field, what I do in these meetings to end the day, and as long as I work hard every single day, improve and do my job for my team, all that stuff will take care of itself.”

Engram is aware that he needs to make improvements, including cutting back on the number of balls he dropped last season.

“There were a lot of things I feel like I could have done better,” Engram said. “There were a lot of things that I did well, and there are things that I can build on. Definitely throwing last year away, there were a lot of things to learn from. But I’m looking forward to this next season and improving every day out here in OTAs.”


Washington LB Cole Holcomb said he wants to be a mentor for rookie LB Jamin Davis and all the other young linebackers.

“It felt like it was yesterday when I was that kid,” Holcomb said, via “It’s nice having him, and I try as much as possible to bring him along, help him out, help him learn the way and help him through this process.”

Holcomb added he can learn from Davis as much as Davis can learn from him.

“You might see a young guy do something, and it’s like, ‘Okay, that works really well. I like what he did, so I can take something from his book, something from that guy’s book,'” Holcomb said.

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