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Around The NFC East: Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles Storylines

News, notes and nuggets about the Giants’ NFC East rivals

NFL: Preseason-Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL preseason underway, there are headlines across the NFC East. Let’s take a look at what’s going on with all of the New York Giants division rivals in this week’s Around the NFC East.

Washington Redskins

Kirk Cousin’s confidence is emerging

The former third round pick by the Washington Redskins, Kirk Cousins, has been improving every year he has been in the league. John Keim of wrote an article on how Cousins personality is starting to emerge.

As Kirk Cousins' confidence grows, his full personality emerges |

The increased comfort level reveals itself in multiple ways for Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins.

One day, it’s the way he handles the play clock, changing a call with five seconds remaining -- something he wouldn’t have done in past years. He knows the offense, trusts what he sees and knows what teammates can handle. So a late adjustment is made.

Then there's the way he interacts with fans. After one short pass in practice early in training camp, a fan razzed him about dumping off -- and making $24 million. Cousins looked at him and smiled. Next play: He threw deep to receiver Terrelle Pryor, ran over to the fan and exchanged robust hand slaps.

Yet another example is the way he works out a route for a receiver in practice. Or uses a wider variety of words for various calls. Or, when mic’d up for CSN Washington, he rattles off lyrics from the musical "Hamilton."

Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliot a top five fantasy football player?

Is Ezekiel Elliott worth a top five draft pick in fantasy football? | Blogging the Boys

Finally, we get to Zeke. The Cowboys’ star rusher led the league in his first season on the professional level. He was a huge reason why America’s Team stormed back into the NFL’s elite tier and won 11 games during the 2016 season. Elliott was ranked as high as the second best player available (one vote) and as low as sixth (two votes). Here is what was said about the second-year star:

The only other running back to make our Top 5 is the Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott, who led the league in rushing average as a rookie, was second in yards from scrimmage, and finished third in touchdowns. Elliott, who ranks fourth on our list, could miss a game or two to start the season because of a suspension, but that should not scare owners away, as Elliott looks to follow in Johnson's footsteps and do away with any talk of a sophomore jinx.

Understandably, Zeke’s potential looming suspension may drop his stock a little bit. It’s difficult to know what the NFL will decide to do regarding Elliott’s case and how long he could miss if a suspension is brought down. Nonetheless, Ezekiel Elliott is one of the three best running backs in the National Football League. His vision, speed, and versatility makes him a difficult match up for defenses week in and week out. His ability to pass protect and catch balls out of the backfield makes him even more valuable.

Cowboys sign Chris Jones to a four-year extension

Cowboys sign punter to 4-year contract extension | Shreveport Times

allas punter Chris Jones has signed a four-year contract extension through 2021, securing the Cowboys' special teams combo with kicker Dan Bailey for at least the next four seasons.

Jones, who had one year remaining on his deal, had a career-best average of 45.9 yards last season, including a 66-yarder that rolled out of bounds at the 1-yard line at Philadelphia in the regular-season finale.

The 28-year-old Jones also had a video highlight last year when he leveled Detroit's Andre Roberts on a punt return late in the season. He had a 30-yard run on a fake punt in an overtime win at home against the Eagles.

Bailey, who has made nearly 90 percent of his field goals through six seasons, is signed through 2020.

Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles All-Decade Preseason Team

With the NFL preseason underway, Cody Benjamin of Bleeding Green Nation threw together his Eagles All-Decade Preseason Team.

The Eagles’ All-Decade Preseason Team | Bleeding Green Nation

The Eagles’ All-Decade Preseason Team (2007-2016)

QB: Sam Bradford (2015)

“Sleeves” had Birds fans chanting “M-V-P” after lighting up the Green Bay Packers with a 10-for-10, three-touchdown outing in the Eagles’ “dress rehearsal.” His 156.7 rating helped Philly move to 3-0 in the preseason, the first big symbol of fool’s gold in 2015.

Honorable mentions: Trent Edwards (forgot he was an Eagle, didn’t you?), G.J. Kinne.

RB: Henry Josey (2014*)

Guaranteed there was at least one fan going around suggesting LeSean McCoy should be outright replaced by this guy.

Brandon Graham earns chance at raise

Sources: Eagles DE Brandon Graham earns shot at $1.5M raise |

Should Graham record more than seven but fewer than nine sacks this season, he'll collect $250,000, with the chance to earn an additional $250,000 if he surpasses the nine-sack mark. If Graham fails to reach nine sacks but is voted to the Pro Bowl on the original ballot or named to either the first or second All-NFL team (something he accomplished last year), he'll earn $250,000.

His sack production and Pro Bowl status in 2017 also impacts his 2018 salary. If Graham records seven to eight sacks, his 2018 base salary increases by $250,000; if he records nine to 11 sacks, his 2018 base salary increases by $500,000. If Graham records 12 or more sacks, his 2018 base salary increases by $750,000. And, if he makes the Pro Bowl on the original ballot or is named to either the first or second All-NFL team, his salary increases by another $250,000.

This means Graham can earn an additional $500,000 in 2017 and $1 million in 2018, bringing his total pay to $14.5 million over two seasons.