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NFC East notebook: Preseason is here!

A look around how the first week of preseason went around the division.

Dallas Cowboys v Denver Broncos Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

It’s the time we have all been waiting for live football is back! While we may not see big names much if at all, it’s a good time to take a look at the depth and how the rookie classes look. Let’s take a look around the division with thanks to the writers around SB Nation.

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys kept most of their first team out for their game against the Denver Broncos. As expected with that many starting players out that there would be a curve.

Among the biggest things to stick out was the number of mistakes made by the Cowboys all night long. In total there were 17 accepted penalties and that number could have easily been higher. RJ Ochoa of Blogging The Boys touched on that in his article.

“What is insane about that figure is that not even all of the penalties committed by the Cowboys were accepted. There were multiple instances where multiple penalties were committed by Dallas and obviously only one can be enforced. Additionally an 18th penalty could have been called against them late in the game, but the Broncos declined it.”

Mike McCarthy spent all offseason telling us about how his team was going to specifically improve team discipline in this exact area. This is the preseason, starters weren’t out there, and all of that jazz, but at a certain point he has to take a long and hard look in the mirror.”

Since the Cowboys were the only team from the NFC East that did not have most starters playing we got an extra look at their rookie class, game one delivered a mixed bag of results.

Tyler Smith continued to make some solid plays for the Cowboys, especially in the running game, which he has shown a knack for throughout camp.

“Truth be told there were both positive and negative moments for Tyler Smith, but all told it feels like the former significantly outweighed the latter.”

“Yes, Smith contributed to the penalty issue (the first holding was a bit debatable), but he also showed the type of physical tenacity that made him such an intriguing prospect to begin with.”

Jalen Tolbert came into this game with a lot of momentum. Tolbert had flashes throughout camp and with the current depth issues at wide receiver, looked poise to carry that momentum into this game. Unfortunately for Dallas things did not go that way.

“Saturday was not the most glowing entrance to the NFL for a rookie wide receiver. Tolbert was targeted 7 times and had 2 receptions (again, quarterback play was not great) for 10 yards. What’s more is he had a crucial fourth down drop.”

“He will be alright. This was surely quite the learning experience.”

Overall a pretty tough game for the Cowboys with the team unable to put points on the board until late in the 4th quarter. The Cowboys lost to the Broncos 17-7.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles even with a veteran team and an established system under second-year coach Nick Sirianni still decided to give the first team a run on the opening series. During that time the offense looked sharp with Jalen Hurts picking apart the Jet’s defense. Hurts went 6 of 6 passing for 80 yards and a touchdown. The offensive line protected the quarterback well and showed the reason there is a lot of talk about Philadelphia being the team to beat in the NFC East

Hurts took a late hit out of bounds by Jets linebacker Quincy Williams. Nick Sirianni could be seen going off on the sideline afterward.

The starting defense started strong after Kyzir White intercepted Zach Wilson on the first drive. In the following series, Wilson went down with a knee injury where it was discovered he will miss some time but overall the Eagles kept the Jets out of the end zone until the second half.

Taking a look at the rookie class it was a strong showing from first-round pick Jordan Davis. Going against the Jet’s starting offensive lineman Davis was disruptive even with consistent double teams.

After a less than inspiring training camp, Nakobe Dean showed up. Brandon Lee Gowton over at Bleeding Green Nation talked about Dean’s play.

“It was really nice to see Dean active in this game after being essentially invisible in training camp practices. Dean finished tied for second in total tackles with five. He was good in run defense, though he did fail to make a play on one rushing attempt to the outside.”

Cam Jurgens also had a good game showing his athleticism. The Eagles will hope Jurgens can build off this performance to provide good depth on the line behind Jason Kelce.

“Jurgens has looked good in practices. He also looked good in his first NFL game action. One should be careful to compare a rookie to a future Hall of Famer who’s made four All-Pro appearances in the past five seasons ... but it’s hard to say Jurgens didn’t resemble Jason Kelce out there on Friday night. He’s certainly athletic.”

While the Eagles eventually fell to the Jets 24-21, There was a lot to like with how things went.

Washington Commanders

The Washington Commanders also decided to roll out the first team players for limited snaps in their game against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers also rolled out some starters so it was a good game to catch to get a look at a couple of Giant’s opponents as they will see the Panthers for their home opener.

All eyes were on Carson Wentz to see how he looked in his first live-action in a Commanders uniform. Overall Wentz took care of the ball and took what the defense gave him going 10 of 13 for 74 yards. Mark Tyler over at Hogs Haven talked about the performance of Wentz.

“Carson Wentz did some nice things, including taking some of the shorter throws the Panthers’ defense gave him. The ball he absolutely ripped to McLaurin was a thing of beauty. He just missed Dotson in the corner which I believe will be a ball you see him routinely complete during the regular season.”

Antonio Gibson led the league in fumbles last season and it looks like things are picking up right where they left off. Gibson fumbled the ball on his second carry of the game which was scooped up by the Panthers. With the performance of rookie third-round pick Brian Robinson, Gibson’s ball security issues could be something to watch for if the Commanders end up giving the rookie a bigger role.

Speaking of Brian Robinson, the rookie running back out of Alabama made a big impression against the Panthers. Robinson punched the ball in the end zone and was secure with the football.

“The rookie third rounder looked the part in limited action, gaining 26 yards on six carries and scoring a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 15 yards. Most importantly, he didn’t fumble. Gibson SHOULD be looking over his shoulder - especially if he continues to put the ball on the ground, as this talented back possesses legit NFL skills.”

Sam Howell fell all the way to the 5th round after getting possible first-round consideration before his final season at UNC. While Howell got 3rd team reps he made the most of them especially after seeing Taylor Heinicke struggle with the second team. Howell ended up going 9/16 for 145 yards and scored 2 rushing touchdowns. Howell made a couple of highlight plays that should get Commanders fans excited to see what the young quarterback can do for the remainder of the preseason.

The Commanders eventually fell to the Panthers, 23-21. This means that the only team to win their first preseason game in the division was none other than your New York Giants.

  • See SB Nation’s Hogs Haven for more about the Commanders