Week 5 just might mark some meaningful returns for the teams across the division, as the Cowboys aren’t the only team getting healthy as we near the midpoint.
Three big names – one for each team – look likely to return to their respective lineups this week in the NFC East. All three of them are young players, and all three should be able to make an impact if they’re able to contribute this weekend.
Probably the most important of those is Philadelphia tackle Lane Johnson. As the No. 4 overall pick in last year’s draft, he bounced back from a slow start and became a dependable right tackle for an Eagles’ offense that rolled through the league.
If you haven’t noticed, that offense isn’t rolling so well in recent weeks, and a big part of that has to do with the offensive line. Johnson has been suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse party, while left guard Evan Mathis and center Jason Kelce have both gone down with injuries. The Eagles need better blocking if LeSean McCoy is going to rediscover anything close to his league-leading 2013 season.
Johnson isn’t going to make the difference up himself. They need to get the interior of their line healthy, and that probably isn’t happening until Week 9 or Week 10. The addition of a starter-caliber player can’t hurt, though, especially given Philadelphia’s Week 5 opponent is St. Louis, which is allowing 155 rushing yards per game this year.
Meanwhile, New York’s top pick this past spring, Odell Beckham Jr., finally looks likely to suit up this weekend when the Giants host Atlanta. The No. 12 overall pick has been out of sight, out of mind since the start of training camp, as a serious hamstring injury kept him out of the preseason and the first month of the regular season.
It looks like the LSU deep threat is finally rounding into game readiness, however. He’s been limited in practice all week, and his hamstring apparently checks out from a medical standpoint. Who knows how much he’ll be able to contribute, but the Giants could use it.
Eli Manning and the New York receivers haven’t exactly been prolific. The Giants rank 15th in passing offense, and no one behind Victor Cruz is jumping out to a fast start. Behind Cruz’s 61-yard catch against Houston in Week 3, the rest of the receivers don’t have a gain longer than 29 yards.
The Redskins are probably going to need more than one player to step up if they’re going to beat Seattle on Monday night, but they should at least have Jordan Reed to help out in the passing game.
Reed has been missing since he injured his hamstring in the Week 1 loss to the Texans. He managed just a catch for four yards in that loss, but the preseason hype billed him as an athletic mismatch in the Washington passing game.
The Redskins’ replacement for Reed, Niles Paul, is leading the team in receiving – ahead of both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson – so it’s not like his absence has been debilitating. Still, with Kirk Cousins needing to bounce back from a four-interception performance in Week 4, any option is a good one.