Posted by Zach Ring

Training Camp Standouts and a Look Back – NFC East

August 16, 2023

We previously posted an article outlining players to watch for each team in each division. Below is who was chosen for that list.

Dallas Cowboys – Brandin Cooks – Brandin Cooks was the biggest, low key signing of the offseason. I don’t know if many people realize how much a guy like Cooks will bring to this offense and help Dak Prescott. Last year, Cowboys receivers had the least amount of separation in the league. Cooks will change that and Michael Gallup can move back to his more natural #3 role.

New York Giants – Darren Waller – I guess the Giants are signing all these slot receivers because they can use Darren Waller like a wide out? Waller gives the Giants something they desperately need. He has to stay healthy, though. It’ll be interesting to see how much work he puts in during Training Camp and whether or not the coaches make him take it easy.

Philadelphia Eagles – Swift/Penny – Who will emerge as the #1 running back between D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny? Both are uber talented. Neither can stay healthy. This might not even be a question that gets answered during Camp, but I’ll be counting starter reps daily.

Washington Commanders – Sam Howell – There is, surprisingly, quite a bit of hype around Sam Howell. There was a time when people were talking about him being a #1 overall pick when he was at UNC. He will start Camp as the starting quarterback and the coaches would like for that to stick. His practice reports will be interesting to watch.

Here’s where things now stand with each team.

Dallas Cowboys

Brandin Cooks has answered any concerns I had for him this offseason. He has seamlessly worked into the Cowboys passing game, showcasing his speed, quickness, and chemistry with Dak Prescott. Cooks will add an element to the Cowboys that they haven’t had since Amari Cooper donned the star.

Another standout from Cowboys Camp that I didn’t foresee was Jalen Tolbert. Tolbert had a very forgettable rookie year and many had written him off completely. But maybe there’s hope? He’s had a fantastic camp. He’s made several standout plays has stacked together some really great practices. He should have a role as the Cowboys WR4, but they have to feel better about their depth should one of the top 3 go down.

I was low key hyped on Jake Ferguson before he solidified himself as the TE1 on the Cowboys during camp. It helped Ferguson’s case that rookie second rounder Luke Schoonmaker missed a large portion of Training Camp, but Ferguson has shown good hands, blocking, and reliability. The Dalton Schultz hole wasn’t that big of a hole, but Ferguson has shown that he is more than capable of filling it.

New York Giants

There might not be another player in the NFL that is having a better camp than Darren Waller. The tight end has been the Giants MVP and it isn’t even close. He has been unstoppable just about every day in practice and has become Daniel Jones’ go to guy. He has also been a full go and looks as healthy as he’s been in a couple years.

Daniel Jones also looks ready to take the next step. Brian Daboll has done wonders for Jones. He’s been accurate and decisive. We’ll see if it translates to actual games come September.

Philadelphia Eagles

So I wanted to see how the running back situation would shake out… And now the situation seems murkier than how it started a few weeks ago. The Eagles released their first unofficial depth chart the other day and it had 5 running backs listed with the first string. According to several reports, it isn’t Rashaad Penny or D’Andre Swift that will be the lead back, it’s Kenneth Gainwell. Swift looked good in the first preseason game, Penny looked okay, and Gainwell didn’t play. There’s also Boston Scott and Trey Sermon. Scott will have his normal role as a spell back. Sermon is the wild card. He’s had a good camp, but also might not make the team.

Jalen Hurts and his pass catchers (AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert) have all looked great as they look to build off of last season. Hurts has looked more accurate with throws rarely hitting the ground throughout camp.

Washington Commanders

Sam Howell has not disappointed in his first Training Camp as a starting quarterback. He’s had his ups and downs, sure, but the ups have outnumbered the downs. He seems to get a little better each day and has developed good rapport with Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Cole Turner. 

Speaking of Turner, he has taken full advantage of Logan Thomas being out with an injury. His name pops up just about every practice. He has made play after play. The Commanders are bringing Thomas along really slow. They don’t want him to get reinjured by rushing his recovery. Turner has turned into the clear TE1 until Thomas returns. Turner played 18 of the 21 snaps with Howell during the first preseason game.

The RBs are hard to gauge, but it’s been evident that Eric Bieniemy wants his backs to catch passes. Brian Robinson (11 snaps) and Antonio Gibson (10 snaps) had a near even split with Howell on the field during the first preseason game. Robinson ran 8 routes and Gibson ran 7.

Last but not least, Jahan Dotson. He has had a great camp, along with Terry McLaurin. Dotson has continuously gotten open and made catches. He’s looking like he’ll have a big year in 2023 as long as Howell can be serviceable.

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