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NFC East Outlook: Only Week 1 but Redskins tied at the top, Cowboys and Giants struggle

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NFC East Outlook: Only Week 1 but Redskins tied at the top, Cowboys and Giants struggle

Sure, it's only Week 1, but for at least this short period of time the Redskins are landing at the top of the NFC East. That never happened in 2017.

Washington and Philadelphia won their season openers, while the Giants and the Cowboys took losses to begin the schedule. The records only tell a bit fo the story, so let's dig in.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

As defending Super Bowl champs, the Eagles got to kick off the NFL season last Thursday with a home game against the Falcons. It wasn't pretty, but the Eagles prevailed 18-12. The game was marred by penalties and ineffective offense, but powered by their defensive line, the Eagles emerged with the win.

Still, the biggest question in Philly remains Carson Wentz's return. Nick Foles had a remarkable playoff run in 2017 but didn't look particularly sharp last week. Some reports say Wentz could be out a few more weeks, and with Foles at the helm, the Eagles can be beat. Next: Sept. 16th @ Tampa Bay

Washington Redskins (1-0)

The Redskins played the best game of any team in the NFC East in Week 1. Washington's 24-6 demolition of Arizona, in Arizona, also marked the only road win logged in the division. The 'Skins proved capable of running the ball and stopping the run, two very valuable techniques to win football games late in the year, especially in a run-heavy division.

Washington will need to pile up wins early for the rest of the NFL to take the Burgundy and Gold seriously, but the talent is there, assuming the team can stay healthy. 

Next: Sept. 16th vs. Indianapolis 

Dallas Cowboys (0-1)

The Cowboys offense looked stagnant in a road loss at Carolina. Dallas only scored eight points, and QB Dak Prescott passed for just 170 yards. Ezekiel Elliott showed some burst, with 15 rushes for 69 yards and a TD, but the lack of receiving options could be a real problem in Big D.

As usually happens in Dallas, the Cowboys only needed one week for drama. Dez Bryant trolled his former team on Twitter during their lackluster Week 1 loss and fans are screaming about the offensive playcalling. Dallas needs a win and needs to run the ball more, or things could get ugly quick. 

Next: Sept. 16th vs New York Giants (Sunday Night Football)

New York Giants (0-1)

Big Blue lost their opener, at home, to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The stars played well; Odell Beckham had more than 100 receiving yards and rookie Saquon Barkley broke free for a long TD run. The Giants really didn't play bad, yet they still lost to Blake Bortles and the Jags.

Bortles only threw for 168 yards and Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette injured his hamstring in the first half. New York lost because of an Eli Manning turnover, and strong defense from the Jags. Here's the reality: Sunday night's contest between the Giants and the Cowboys is a de facto playoff game. The loser of that game is highly unlikely to sniff the postseason after starting 0-2. 

Next: Sept. 16th @ Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night Football)

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Derrius Guice reportedly hurt his knee again before Washington released him

Derrius Guice reportedly hurt his knee again before Washington released him

A news storm ensued after Derrius Guice was arrested on domestic violence charges and subsequently released by the Washington Football Team. Seemingly lost in the shuffle was some news about yet another knee injury for the third-year running back. 

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Guice hurt his knee again the day before he was released.

This would have been huge news for the former second-round pick, who's grappled with knee injuries throughout the first two seasons of his career. He suffered a torn ACL as a rookie, a meniscus tear at the beginning of last season and an MCL sprain later on in 2019 as well.

There was hope for Guice to become a featured back, and he certainly had the ability to become one had he been able to stay healthy. 

RELATED: RIVERA EXPLAINS DECISION TO CUT GUICE

It's unclear how much another knee injury had to do with Guice's release, though it certainly couldn't have made things easier on Guice's hopes to stay on the roster. He later went unclaimed on waivers, making him a free agent for the first time in his young career.

Washington doesn't have much time to worry about Guice now. They have to figure out how to distribute the carries between Adrian Peterson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, Antonio Gibson and Bryce Love without a preseason schedule to test things out.

With their first taste of game action this season set as a September 13 clash with the Eagles, Peterson figures to start off as the lead back behind Dwayne Haskins based on experience alone. Peterson has over 3,000 career carries under his belt while the other four options have combined for 639.

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Alex Smith could make 'interesting' battle for QB practice reps with Dwayne Haskins

Alex Smith could make 'interesting' battle for QB practice reps with Dwayne Haskins

Training camp should be a major opportunity for Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins to get a lot of work with new offensive coordinator Scott Turner and the new playbook, but if Alex Smith is healthy, the reps for Haskins might shrink.

"The biggest thing we’ve got to do is not make sure we’re divvying up the reps as evenly as possible, but we divvy up who they work against. This could be a very interesting challenge for us because of QB Alex Smith. If Alex is healthy and continues to get healthy and we do activate him, he’s going to be in the throes of this competition," head coach Ron Rivera said on Monday. 

The Washington Football Team drafted Haskins 15th overall last year, only after Smith suffered a broken leg in November 2018. Rivera wasn't around for either of the decisions to draft Haskins or trade for Smith, but now the new coach gets to try and solve the QB riddle in Washington. 

Haskins struggled as a rookie in part because he didn't get much practice work with the first team offense. It was obvious how little Haskins knew of the offense and his offensive teammates when he first got on the field in Week 4 last year. Some of that might have been self-inflicted, regardless, Haskins needed the work. 

Now in his second season, Haskins got exactly zero team drills in this offseason due to Coronavirus. None. 

So, with what should be the most important training camp of his young professional career, Haskins again might face another hurdle in the return of Smith. 

Smith deserves tremendous accolades for his recovery after 17 surgeries and intense infection in his leg. But is Smith getting back on the field the best thing for a young Washington team trying to rebuild?

Haskins is 23. Smith is 36.

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Haskins has tremendous potential, Smith has already proven he can produce.

Haskins has started seven NFL games. Smith has started seven NFL playoff games. 

Considering all of that, Haskins should get the most work of any Washington passer.

Take note that Rivera didn't say the reps needed to be equitable, but rather the level of competition. Haskins needs more reps than Smith or Kyle Allen.

RELATED: WHICH WASHINGTON PLAYER HAS A LOT RIDING ON THE 2020 SEASON?

Smith has been in the NFL since he was drafted first overall in 2005. Allen started 13 games for Rivera and Turner in the last two seasons. Haskins hasn't even been through a padded practice with Rivera and Turner. 

It makes total sense to get Allen reps against the first-team defense. He needs to be prepared. And should Smith get medically cleared to be back on the field against a defense, he should get some of those reps too. Washington needs to see what Smith has left if he actually gets cleared for football.

Still, Haskins should get the majority of that work. He needs it, and Rivera needs to see what he has in the former Ohio State star. 

Smith's recovery is an incredible story, but Rivera's plan in Washington is a long-term rebuild to put together a consistent playoff team. That means getting Haskins on the field as much as possible. 

Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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