NFC Notes: Washington, Cowboys, Falcons, Rams

With Alfred Morris having agreed to a deal with NFC East rival Dallas earlier this week, Washington is prepared to go forward with Matt Jones as its starting running back.

“That’s what we envision, yes,” said head coach Jay Gruden (link via Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Mid-Atlantic). “We like Matt. We think he’s a smart football player and he runs very, very hard. Now we just have to make sure the ball security is there [because] he can catch the ball out the backfield. He’s a very good solid football player that we have high hopes for.”

In his rookie year last season, Jones – a third-round pick from Florida – averaged just 3.4 yards per carry on 144 attempts (compared to Morris’ 3.7 and 202, respectively) and totaled as many fumbles (four) as touchdowns. Washington is expected to add a complement to Jones in either free agency or the draft, according to Gruden, who said the team is interested in re-signing the still-available Pierre Thomas.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Even with Morris in the fold, the Cowboys have a less-than-ideal running back situation, opines Jean-Jacques Taylor of The Cowboys will try a balanced attack to aid quarterback Tony Romo – who has gone 38-11 as a starter while throwing 30 times or fewer and 41-38 otherwise – but Taylor doesn’t expect a backfield trio of Morris, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar to fare particularly well. Thus, the team should use a second- or third-rounder on a running back and let the others compete for backup roles behind the rookie, Taylor believes.
  • The Falcons and free agent linebacker O’Brien Schofield are at “an impasse,” tweets D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Schofield said earlier this month that he and the Falcons weren’t “seeing eye-to-eye on a contract,” and the club may have found a replacement for him Friday when it signed Courtney Upshaw. The Falcons have offered Schofield a deal, per Vaughn McClure of, but the Upshaw signing could seal his fate in Atlanta. Schofield, 28, joined the Falcons last year and then made 30 tackles and two sacks in 16 appearances (11 starts) during the season. Upshaw has the greater track record of the pair, having started 29 more games (51 to 22) in two fewer seasons.
  • Remarkably, despite being shot in the head twice last November, the door hasn’t yet closed on Stedman Bailey‘s career. The Rams receiver “is currently in the evaluation process, seeking numerous opinions from neurologists and the like,” head coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday (link via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). “Just to see if he can not only play, but continue with a rigorous physical rehab program that will put him in position to play.” Bailey has continued to stay involved with the team, as Thomas writes, with Fisher adding, “He’s been in the building. We’ve seen him. He’s doing well. He seems like the same old Sted, and he’s very lucky as we’ve all noted to be alive.”
  • Washington is undecided about the future of receiver Andre Roberts, reports John Keim of Washington stands to save a solid amount if it cuts Roberts ($3MM before June 1, $4MM if he’s given a post-June 1 designation), but the team isn’t allowed to release him right now because he’s recovering from a torn meniscus. Roberts might not be ready until training camp, per Gruden. Even without his health taken into account, Roberts is probably Washington’s No. 4 wideout – which doesn’t seem to bode well for his chances to stay on the roster. The 28-year-old was productive from 2010-14, when he caught a combined 218 passes and 13 touchdowns for Arizona and Washington; he’s coming off a career-worst season, however, having hauled in a mere 11 catches in nine games. He also failed to find the end zone for the first time in his six-year NFL tenure.
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