The big news: DE Osi Umenyiora is back. Uh, hold on. OK, now he's back. Giants fans will soon forget that the star of their D-line went AWOL for a day during the preseason, after he was criticized by new defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. What Umenyiora is really back from is torn lateral meniscus cartilage that kept him out for all of 2008 (though Eagle fans won't soon forget his six sacks vs. Philadelphia in September 2007). His return adds immense depth to a line whose breakdown contributed to the Giants' stretch-run collapse last season. With Umenyiora and Juston Tuck on the ends, tenacious former starter Mathias Kiwanuka will rotate in as backup. At tackle, Barry Cofield and Chris Canty can be spelled by Fred Robbins and Rocky Bernard. The Giants hope the deep bench will keep the defensive pressure high at least through their second meeting with the Eagles, on Dec. 13.
New Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth nearly had an instant impact on the 2009 season before it started, when he pancaked Patriots QB Tom Brady out of an exhibition game with a crunching hit. Brady looks fine now, and the Redskins hope Haynesworth makes an impact when the games count, since they brought him to Washington with a seven-year, $100 million contract that made him the league's highest-paid defensive player. Haynesworth, who wreaks havoc in opposing backfields and shuts down the middle to runners, is sure to draw double teams. That ought to give ends Phillip Daniels and Andre Carter more opportunities to penetrate, and Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache may be able to limit his blitzes, freeing the secondary for better pass coverage.
- Don Steinberg