NFC East Stock Watch


1. Redskins' health. They lost two starting offensive linemen -- one for the season -- and valuable tight end Chris Cooley last week. This week, they lost starting running back Tim Hightower for the season and top wide receiver Santana Moss for five to seven weeks. The Redskins were always going to be a team for which everything had to be just right, and things seem to be going very, very wrong all of a sudden. They're liable to be able to fill in at running back with Ryan Torain and Roy Helu, but the injuries on the line are a major concern, as those are likely to show up more as the year goes along than they did in the first week without Trent Williams and Kory Lichtensteiger on the left side.

2. Tashard Choice. For a time, there was an opinion in Dallas that Choice deserved a chance to start -- or at least get more carries -- over Felix Jones. But he's failed to emerge, and his failure to take advantage of an opportunity against the pitiful Rams on Sunday could spell the end of his time with the Cowboys. Rookie DeMarco Murray seized that same opportunity and literally ran with it for a team-record 253 yards. There's no question which back will be featured until Jones is healthy again. The only question now is whether Choice will have a spot on the team once Jones gets back.

3. Redskins' defense. Through four games, Washington was allowing 15.25 points per game. They even did an impressive job in Week 6 against the Eagles, holding Philadelphia scoreless in the second half after giving up 20 in the first. But they allowed 33 points and 407 total yards to Cam Newton and the Panthers on Sunday, and they may be trending the wrong way. Granted, the way the offense is playing, it's asking too much of the defense. But that's not likely to get better any time soon, so the Redskins need to toughen up starting this week against Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson and the high-powered offense of the Buffalo Bills.


1. DeMarco Murray. No, he's not going to get the Rams' defense every week. And scouts will tell you that his falling-forward running style will create a problem for him down the line if he doesn't clean it up. But Murray runs hard and is quick, and his performance showed the Cowboys what can be when they rely on their run game. Once Jones does come back, they would do well -- as some have been saying all along -- to mix up their running backs, not ask too much of any single one and develop a rotation that keeps their running game healthy and dangerous all year long. I don't think Tony Romo would mind the break.

2. Giants' health. What wonders a bye week can work. The Giants got Justin Tuck, Brandon Jacobs, Chris Snee, Prince Amukamara... even perpetually injured receiver Ramses Barden back at practice Monday and should be at something close to full strength for Sunday's game against the Dolphins. Health was a major issue for the Giants at the start of the season, but they've managed to go 4-2 while missing a number of key players. And except for Terrell Thomas and Jonathan Goff and guys who suffered season-ending injuries, it looks as though they may be getting most of their key contributors back on the field in time for their challenging second-half schedule.

3. Ryan Torain. He was a huge Week 6 flop against the Eagles as the Redskins got behind early and only ran the ball 12 times. But with Hightower out of the picture and Helu still a rookie, Torain should get a chance to be the Redskins' feature back this week against Buffalo. We've seen what he can do with that role, and I think you can expect big numbers as long as he stays healthy. I say "I think," because we never know with Mike Shanahan. But he likes the way Torain runs, and I'm expecting that he'll give him a chance.