Most fantasy owners have spent the past 24 hours breaking their necks to get information about Peyton Manning's. But for everyone else who is settled at the quarterback spot, it's a good time to go hunting for IDPs. It wasn't all that long ago that shopping for defensive players meant taking a look at NFC East teams. The division was considered the toughest in the NFL, and arguably the most treacherous single division amongst the major pro sports. But times have changed. Besides the Eagles and their offseason spending spree, the rest of the defenses in the division have major questions marks -- which is why this week's edition of "Reading the Defense" has a distinctive Eastern flavor.
First down: The Dallas Cowboys secondary might have been the team's biggest liability in 2010 and things aren't looking better to start 2011. Cornerback Terence Newman missed practice on Wednesday with a groin injury and looks unlikely to play in Sunday's season opener. It leaves open the question of who new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will use to slow down Jets' receiver Santonio Holmes. The most obvious answer would seem to be Mike Jenkins, expect for one small problem -- Jenkins hyperextended his knee and could be out this weekend as well. Fantasy owners generally may not put much stock in Mark Sanchez's value, but he has enough weapons to exploit a shaky secondary still trying to learn a new defensive scheme. Stay away from any Dallas defensive backs this week.
Second down: While Peyton Manning's consecutive start streak will end this week, it looks like Jon Beason's will continue. Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he expects the fifth-year linebacker to play on Sunday -- despite having foot surgery just two weeks ago and missing practice on Thursday. Beason has started every game of his career since being a first-round pick in 2007, but more importantly for the Panthers, he will hopefully provide run support against Arizona's Beanie Wells, who had a fantastic preseason. Carolina's defense was in the bottom third of the league when it came to stopping the run last season and their preseason performance gave no reason to think things will change much this year. Beason should have plenty of opportunities to make plays once again.
Third down:Redskins safety LaRon Landry became just the latest athlete to tweet his way into trouble when he accused Washington's training staff for his slow rehab from a reaggravated hamstring injury. While Landry backed off his original statement, it doesn't change the fact that he is likely to miss the team's Week 1 game against the Giants. As for when he returns, not even Landry has any idea. The fifth-year safety hasn't played in a regular season game since an Achilles injury sidelined him last November. The 'Skins were hoping that he would form a dynamic safety duo with free agent signee Oshiomogho Atogwe, but that's on hold for the time being. With Reed Doughty expected to start in place of Landry, it could mean Atogwe has a busy Sunday.
Fourth down: After a bumpy training camp on and off the field, Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora will miss the first two games of the season as he recovers from knee surgery. The silver lining for Big Blue is that he's at least scheduled to return -- no sure thing with Giants defenders this season. Umenyiora had one of the more productive seasons of his career in 2010, racking up 11.5 sacks. When he returns, he'll form one of the league's most feared set of bookends with Justin Tuck, but with a patchwork secondary, it may be hard for him to match those sack totals.