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20 questions in 20 days: 4 Is the defense ready to carry the load?

20 questions in 20 days: 4 Is the defense ready to carry the load?

By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler
CSNwashington.com20 questions in 20 daysAs we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 5:Is the defense ready to carry the load?The background:The preseason focus has been on Robert Griffin III and rightfully so. Although expectations are high for Griffin, he is still a rookie quarterback and it is unreasonable to expect the offense to light up the scoreboard right away. If the Redskins are going to be successful the defense will have to keep the other team out of the end zone and do a better job of taking the ball away than it did last year (21 takeaways, 24thin the league).Tandler:The conventional wisdom is that the front seven, one of the best in the NFL, will have to cover for deficiencies in the secondary. And in this rare case the conventional wisdom is right. Any secondary is vulnerable if the quarterback has all day to throw and it could get ugly if the likes of Eli Manning and Drew Brees have the time to pick apart the shaky back end of Washingtons defense. Brian Orakpo needs to reach his potential as a pass rusher and Ryan Kerrigan and Perry Riley need to take steps forward in their second seasons as starters. But the front seven cant do it all. Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall will need to make plays when they have opportunities and Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams have be solid as the last line of defense. It seems to be a tall order.El-Bashir:When the Steelers switched to a 3-4 scheme under Bill Cowher in 1992, their defense jumped from 22nd to 13th to 3rd in the NFL in a span of three seasons. The Redskins made a similar switch two years ago under defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, and last season improved to 13th, up from 31st. But can the Redskins make a Steelers-like leap in 2012? The players are familiar enough. But are they talented enough? The concern is a secondary that recently lost hard-hitting safety Tanard Jackson to suspension. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall needs to bounce back from a subpar 2011 season, while his counterpart, Josh Wilson, needs to find consistency. Safeties Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams, meantime, need to be better than they were in the preseason. A unit, after all, is only a strong as its weakest link.20 questions in 20 days20 Aug.20Will Jammal Brown play this year?
19 Aug.21Will Chris Cooley make the team?
18 Aug. 22Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 Aug. 23Is Garon a No. 1 receiver?
16 Aug. 24Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
15 Aug. 25Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
14 Aug. 26Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
13 Aug. 27Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?
12 Aug. 28Will Leonard Hankerson break out?
11 Aug. 29Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
10 Aug. 30How much can Hightower contribute this year?
9 Aug. 31Was making Billy Cundiff the kicker a good move?
8 Sept. 1Will Josh Morgan be worth the investment?
7 Sept. 2What can Jarvis Jenkins contribute?
6 Sept 3Is the offensive line depth good enough?
5 YesterdayWill a running back by committee work?
4 TodayIs the defense ready to carry the load?
3 TomorrowHow many wins is enough?
2 FridayHow much should RG3 run?
1 SaturdayCan RG3 . . . ?

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Usher can't save Su'a Cravens from being booed off stage by Redskins teammates

Usher can't save Su'a Cravens from being booed off stage by Redskins teammates

Redskins safety Su'a Cravens might have thought an interception in Friday's practice would earn him good will for his rookie skit later that night. Boy, was he wrong. 

In a delightful tale relayed by ESPN's John Keim, Cravens was literally pelted with paper balls and booed off the stage as he attempted to perform "Confessions" by Usher. 

“Everyone likes Usher. I’m thinking this is easy money,” Cravens said. 

“The first two acts in front of me, they sung. Everyone let them go. I’m like, ‘OK, it’s going to be a smooth transition.’ Soon as I start it’s like, ‘Booooo!’… I started and I’m getting paper balls, boos and, ‘Stone him!’”

Stone him? What is this, ancient Greece? 

When asked what happened, Cravens pointed the finger at linebacker Will Compton. “Will had it out for me,” he told Keim. “He told everyone to boo me before I even started.”

Defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois didn't deny Compton was behind it. 

“All you see is paper balls flying across from everywhere. [Cravens is] trying to get it off. He wanted to use his music and he had strobe lights," Jean-Francois said. 

"Even people that did get a song off, all you saw is flying paper balls left and right. [Compton] was setting him up for failure. We wanted him to go up there to see how it feels.”

Is this sour grapes by veterans who don't appreciate a rookie showing off at camp?

Or do people genuinely not like Usher anymore? Yeah, nah. Usher is the best. 

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VIDEO: Niles Paul mercilessly beats Chris Baker with pads during CSN interview

VIDEO: Niles Paul mercilessly beats Chris Baker with pads during CSN interview

Chris Baker always seems to be the guy photobombing his teammates. This time, they exacted revenge. 

As Baker sat down with Redskins Insider J.P. Finlay, a parade of Redskins clowned in the background. The best was Niles Paul, who battered Swaggy with what look like foam bats used in ball security drills. 

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Is Tony Romo fat? An investigation

Is Tony Romo fat? An investigation

Is Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo fat? That's the question of the day on the NFL Internet. 

It all started with this photo of the 36-year-old jogging onto the field at the start of training camp. 

At first glance, yes, Romo does look quite porcine. The 6-foot-2 veteran has been listed at 230 pounds, significantly slimmer than this image would suggest. 

Could missing the second half of last season with a fractured collar bone have kept him from staying in shape? Twitter, of course, had jokes. 

Laughs aside, it's hard to determine from a single image whether someone has gained weight. Any number of factors can make a person look fat. Angle, lighting, the way clothes hang, etc. 

In this case, it seems some confluence of those forces created a misleading shot. Here's another from that same moment. 

Yeah, not so fat here. 

Cowboys alum Michael Irvin also insisted that he'd seen Romo recently and he looked "fine."

The verdict of our investigation: unflattering photo, nothing to see here. Let's all go back to picking at Eddie Lacy, shall we?