10 things to watch for in the NFC East

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:27 PM ET

1. In the NFC East there is a war brewing. Never mind the Cowboys and Giants. Forget the ’Skins and Eagles. The best confrontation could unfold this week when Albert (The Unstoppable Force) Haynesworth meets Mike (The Immovable Pout) Shanahan at the opening of Washington’s training camp.

Nobody can do a better imitation of The Sphinx than Shanahan. Unless it’s Haynesworth. One is recognized as one of the top football minds in the world; the other is recognized for, well, having a mind but not always accessing it fully.

Haynesworth just cashed a bonus cheque for $21 million and has been whining ever since about Shanahan’s 3-4 defence because it doesn’t bring out his better qualities. So far those better qualities have got the Redskins beaten, abused and embarrassed. Shanahan has to show Haynesworth and the NFL he is running this show and he has to do it fast or the Redskins could turn into the longest running soap opera since Lindsay Lohan met Last Call.

2. Three in the running: One of the more intense battles at running back is in Dallas where Felix Jones is trying to build on last season’s success. Camp observers though believe Marion Barber has a comeback player of the year type effort left in him.

Barber is 10 pounds lighter and looks much quicker than last season. He will have to be if he hopes to get his job back as the starter. In the future, however, the Cowboys best running back in camp could end up being Tashard Choice.

3. The enemy within?: Osi Umenyiora believes he is the best option at defensive end for the Giants. All he has to do now is convince head coach Tom Coughlin. “It’s going to be a problem,” said Umenyiora if he’s used in a back-up role again to Mathias Kiwanuka.

Umenuyiora felt humiliated last year when he was demoted, asked to be traded and spent much of the off-season complaining. Meantime, Kiwanuka is entering his contract year and wants as many snaps as possible. Egos on a collision course. A couple losses and this team could implode from within.

4. Things that go together: Bacon and eggs. Bert and Ernie. Tom Coughlin and a job resume. If he misses the playoffs again he can kiss this job good-bye.

5. Padding the roster: The Cowboys need to find someone to replace Flozell Adams at left tackle. They’re thinking Doug Free. I’m thinking give the job to Roy Williams and tell him the guy he’s lining up against is Dez Bryant’s best friend and advisor. Then dial 911. And watch for flying body parts.

6. Slaughter of the innocents?: The Eagles’ season depends on how quickly Kevin Kolb can prove to his team-mates that he’s ready to be a No. 1 quarterback. He will be helped by one of the best receiving corps in the NFL. Appears to be mentally tough but lets see how that works out after a running back misses a block and he gets a chance to participate in every NFL quarterback’s favorite hobby - star-watching.

7. QB or not to be: One more failed run in Dallas at a Super Bowl and Tony Romo goes from being the next Roger Staubach to the next Steve Beuerlein, or the immortal Clint Longley.

8. The ouch back: After 11 seasons in Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb moves to the Redskins where he could become Shanahan’s next John Elway. Of course, he has to deal with mediocre receivers and an offensive line with more holes in it than a promise of a Stanley Cup by a Maple Leafs’ owner. So, he’s more likely to become the next Jason Campbell. Sore and beaten.

9. Michael Vick. Eagles’ coach Andy Reid’s go-to guy if the Kolb experience fails. Scary. Some might say a team poised to go to the dogs. On the other hand, if it works the Reid legend in Philly gets stronger than ever.

10. All Points Bulletin: Anyone seeing the real Roy Williams please contact Tony Romo & Co. Last seen being himself in college. Nobody knows why.


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